KU and the YMCA
Dr. James Naismith, Kansas University's first basketball coach, is credited with inventing the game of basket ball (that's right, two words) in 1891. And although he ended up as KU's only coach to end his tenure with a losing record, he got the better of the YMCA.
As KU coach, Naismith went 21-16 against a variety of YMCA teams, including chapters from Lawrence, Topeka, Ottawa, Olathe and Newton; Omaha, Neb.; Des Moines and Muscatine in Iowa; and Chicago.
It didn't start well. The Jayhawks launched their storied basketball heritage with a fizzle, in 1899, with a 16-5 loss to the Kansas City YMCA in Kansas City, Mo., the first of three wins the YMCA chapter would record against KU.
But Naismith did manage to end that particular skid. In 1906, Naismith's Jayhawks clobbered K.C.'s YMCA, 56-6, in Kansas City.
The YMCA is looking into the possibility of opening a fitness storefront or full-scale community center in Lawrence.
Such considerations are in their "infancy," said Rob Sauve, vice president for facilities and property management at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City.
The YMCA is looking at two or three sites in town. Northwest Lawrence would be a logical place to consider, Sauve said, including the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive as Wal-Mart proceeds with plans for building a store there.
Also in the mix: the Wakarusa Crossroads center at the intersection's southwest corner, near Salty Iguana and HH Bar & Grill.
Sauve said factors such as existing population, future development plans and the length of drive times would be weighed during discussions.
"The northwest part of town is where the growth is, so that would be one we would be looking at," Sauve said.
While such considerations are active, they are far from certain to be leading to a new YMCA in town, at least not anytime soon. The operation already has "four or five" other projects going in the Kansas City area, Sauve said.
Officials in Kansas City are just now starting to consider whether to embark on a market study, which would be a four-week project and the first real step toward a plan. For now, Sauve said, only a handful of Realtors have provided some tentative options to the YMCA.
Market conditions, money available and other factors still must be considered before anything progresses.
"We're at step one of about a 100-step process," he said.
Scott Jerwick, of K.C. Commercial Realty Group in Prairie Village, confirmed that his firm had sent information about Wakarusa Crossroads to the YMCA. The shopping center includes the vacant Googols of Fun storefront, plus two sites where stand-alone buildings could be added.
"It's a big use. It's a big draw," Jerwick said, noting YMCA officials were seeking "very aggressive deals" during their growth push. "They definitely want to have something in Lawrence."
Should Lawrence pass the market test, Sauve said, YMCA leaders would need to decide which concept might be appropriate for the community.
Among the options:
¢ A YMCA Express, which would provide exercise equipment, weights, locker rooms, a small nursery and a potential yoga room. Such locations can be built to suit or moved into an existing space. Typical cost: At least $1 million.
¢ A family center. Such locations offer more features and services, including gymnasiums, workout areas, an indoor swimming pool and more. A center can cover more than 25,000 square feet and cost at least $6 million.
The YMCA of Greater Kansas City already has 18 locations in places stretching as far from the urban center as Bonner Springs and Osawatomie, Platte City, Mo., and Blue Springs, Mo.
In Kansas overall, there are 28 YMCA operations in 17 Kansas communities: Kansas City, Bonner Springs, Topeka, Olathe, Prairie Village, Atchison, Osawatomie, Viola, Elmdale, Wichita, El Dorado, Garden City, Junction City, McPherson, Hutchinson, Pittsburg and Salina.