Today’s forecast is for rain. It must be Kansas Relays weekend. Anyone who has lived in Lawrence for any length of time recognizes an uncanny correlation between spring rain and the April weekend the track and field event is held at Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium. It doesn’t happen every year, but the odds of the Kansas Relays being rained on always seem pretty high.
Nonetheless, this event is a wonderful KU tradition. Great athletes like Jim Ryun, Glenn Cunningham, Billy Mills, Bruce Jenner, Bill Nieder and Al Oerter have graced the KU Relays on their way to Olympic competition. Thousands of high school and college athletes have participated in the Relays. It’s been a signature event for KU for more than 80 years.
KU’s Memorial Stadium has been the home of the Relays since 1923. From time to time over the decades, there has been talk about removing the track from the stadium and turning it into strictly a football venue. That talk has gotten more serious in recent years and was renewed last month when KU revealed a “master plan” for a $24.6 million Olympic village south of Allen Fieldhouse.
The “village” would include a 400-meter track with grandstand seating, along with new soccer fields and other facilities. It’s unclear when the new track might become a reality, but it looks as if Memorial Stadium’s days as the home of the Kansas Relays may be numbered.
It’s another reason to enjoy this weekend’s event, rain or shine.
It seems like a difficult time to raise $24.6 million for athletic facilities or anything else, but if there’s one thing KU Athletics Director Lew Perkins is good at, it’s raising money.
Do you suppose he’ll be able to do anything about the rain?