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Archive for Friday, November 27, 2009

Recession makes large donations harder to come by

November 27, 2009

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As Kansas Athletics Inc. seeks support for building a $34 million Gridiron Club atop Memorial Stadium, pumping $25 million into building an Olympic Village for nonrevenue sports, and sending $40 million up Mount Oread to address academic needs, officials are counting on loyal KU fans and supporters to make the vision a reality.

And Dana Anderson, one of the department’s most generous boosters in recent years, hasn’t seen it. “I haven’t even seen a sketch or anything,” he said.

Not that he doesn’t support the effort.

It’s just that Anderson — the main force behind the Anderson Family Football Complex, the Anderson Family Strength Center and the marching band’s new uniforms — already has his hands full when it comes to keeping up with his millions of dollars in financial commitments to athletics and other matters at Kansas University.

As vice chairman for The Macerich Company — a California-based owner of 72 malls in 23 states — Anderson has watched his stock holdings drop from above $100 a share when he made the commitments to below $6 a share since then.

The stock is back up above $20 now, but that hasn’t been enough to keep him from dipping into his personal retirement accounts to keep up with his financial commitments to KU. He’s still on schedule with his payments, and anticipates remaining so.

But Anderson understands how difficult the economic environment is for donors to contribute, even for investments as important as KU athletics.

“These are certainly challenging times,” Anderson said. “I made pledges toward athletics and the marching band and the libraries when my net worth was significantly different. And my income was significantly different. I think, hopefully, we will come back. Hopefully. These are tough times right now.”

The football complex required $33 million in contributions, including $12 million from Anderson’s family.

The family of Tom Kivisto pledged at least $10 million toward the project. Kivisto, a former KU basketball player who went on to found an energy-trading company, was fired from the company last year after it fell into bankruptcy, crushed by the loss of $2.4 billion on transactions involving oil futures.

Jim Marchiony, an associate athletics director, said that while he could not address the status of particular pledges or donations, the financial commitment of Kansas supporters remained commendable.

“We have a very, very, very good rate,” he said. “Fortunately, our donors, alums and supporters are very good about fulfilling their pledges. … Our people have been terrific.”

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