Archive for Sunday, May 18, 2008

Area has variety of sports complexes

Other districts provide blueprints for ways to fund, design facilities

May 18, 2008


Area outdoor sports complexes


¢ Owns two district complexes, both paid for using school district bonds.

¢ The Olathe District Activity Center opened in 1991. It includes a football stadium with grass and eight-lane track, two fields each for soccer, baseball and softball.

¢ The $14 million College Boulevard Activity Center opened in 2003. It includes the same fields, except for a track.

Shawnee Mission

¢ A 2004 bond issue for $184 million allowed for several athletic upgrades, including adding artificial turf to its South stadium and rebuilding its North stadium with artificial turf.

¢ The district also constructed its own complexes for softball and soccer, and it leases fields at the 3&2 baseball complex in Lenexa for its teams.

Topeka, Hummer Sports Park

¢ In a 2001 bond issue, the district built a complex for $17.5 million on the former state hospital grounds.

¢ It includes a 6,000-seat football stadium with artificial turf, an outdoor track, other fields for soccer, baseball and softball and a natatorium.

Lawrence school district leaders don't have to look far to find examples of styles of outdoor sports complexes in other districts: Olathe, Shawnee Mission and Topeka.

"What I look forward to, and what (the administration) will bring back to us, is an idea of what has worked and take the best of what's out there and tailor it toward Lawrence," said Scott Morgan, a Lawrence school board member.

There's also one major difference in the Lawrence administration's plan to develop a district athletic and wellness complex compared with the others. As of now, it wouldn't be funded from a bond issue, which means it likely could be something that is developed to over time.

The Olathe, Shawnee Mission and Topeka school districts also executed their plans in different ways.

As part of a $184 million bond issue, Shawnee Mission renovated its South district football stadiums and rebuilt the North one, including adding artificial surfaces, which has allowed grounds crews to mostly focus on fields elsewhere in the district.

"They don't require the same level of maintenance or the same man hours or labor that natural grass does," said Bruce Kracl, the district's manager of operations and maintenance.

The 2004 bond issue also has allowed the district to develop separate complexes for soccer and softball, and it also leases fields for games from the 3&2 Baseball Club of Johnson County, a nonprofit that operates them.

Olathe and Topeka, meanwhile, have facilities for several sports at one site.

Olathe established the Olathe District Activity Center in 1991, and thanks to another bond issue, it built the College Boulevard Activity Center in 2003 for about $14 million. Both offer fields for football, soccer, baseball and softball, and ODAC's stadium includes an outdoor track.

Administrators evaluated how to preserve what worked best and how to improve it when they built the second complex.

"If we just took (ODAC) and doubled it in size, the traffic becomes an issue," said Greg Thomason, construction manager for Olathe public schools.

Topeka's school district built Hummer Sports Park after a 2001 bond issue authorized a $17.5 million complex for football, soccer, baseball, softball and track. Now it includes a natatorium, a separate building for a swimming pool.

Lawrence school administrators recently unveiled a plan to use a financing tool to improve athletic fields, such as installing artificial turf, at both high school campuses. The new fields could be used for competition until a district facility or complex is built.

Talks have begun with Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self's Assists Foundation, which is seeking to become a partner to establish a campus to benefit child wellness.

Morgan said a complex like that would be different from others in the area.

"What really makes a place unique is the function you put into it," he said.


Janet Lowther 9 years, 10 months ago

What a waste of taxpayers' money!If the sports nuts want those kinds of facilities, let them raise the money for them from private sources (including the upkeep.) Don't ask me to pay for their folly!I go past the Hummer sports complex fairly often after work, and hardly ever see anything happening. Until reading this article,I assumed it was just another underutilised city park, but as a school district operation, it is an even more astounding waste of resources!

dinglesmith 9 years, 10 months ago

Sports were an invaluable part of my high school experience. So was music and to a lesser extent, drama. I am a huge advocate of extracurricular programs and would go so far as to require them if I were king of the school board.However, I live in a community of about 80K folks that already has two football stadiums, three baseball complexes, at least three tracks, and countless practice facilities. I would venture to guess that every junior high, high school and university in Lawrence maintains at least as many football fields as libraries! (Make sure you count practice and intramural fields at KU before you say no...)I'm not usually one to tell other people what they don't need, but in this situation I'm hard pressed to figure out why we need to drop more public money on athletic facilities for Lawrence. Hats off to Bill Self though. At least he's willing to put his own time and money into the things he wants to see changed.

yankeelady 9 years, 10 months ago

With the money they save from paying Haskell for mediocre (at best) facilities, they can go a long way towards paying for this project. And it would be nice to have a home field that really is "home". It opens up other possibilities, marching band competitions and so on.

doc1 9 years, 10 months ago

jrlii. Sports are an important part of society. These students deserve what every other school district in the nation has. You might not like sports but there are alot that do.

Nikki May 9 years, 10 months ago

I think it's a good idea. I think the softball field at LHS is horrible.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.