A split formation for 11th Street near Memorial Stadium would be straightened in conjunction with Kansas Athletics Inc.’s game plan for a new $34 million Gridiron Club.
The street’s offset intersections at Mississippi Street — a source of driver confusion for decades — would be consolidated into a traditional four-way stop, as part of KU’s proposed plan.
That’s because a new stretch of 11th would be built, starting from its intersection with Illinois Street and cutting diagonally through McCook Olympic Field, an area currently used by KU’s track and field team for discus, javelin and shot put events. The road would connect into a new traditional four-way intersection on Mississippi at the eastern leg of 11th.
McCook Olympic Field would be relocated to an area south of Anschutz Sports Pavilion.
By moving the field events and rebuilding the road, KU could add as many as 158 new parking spaces — all part of the vision for the stadium’s expanded seating-and-lounge area expected to include 3,000 seats and pump as much as $40 million into academic programs.
“At this point it’s in the planning-and-discussion stage,” said Don Steeples, KU senior vice provost. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
The stadium expansion and road-relocation project is up for review during Thursday’s meeting of the city’s Historic Resources Commission, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets. The proposed plans also envision a new campus gateway to be installed at what would be the northwest corner of the new intersection at 11th and Mississippi.
The commission is involved because the entire project would be near the Hancock Historic District, a collection of more than a dozen structures generally located between the stadium and the Ecumenical Christian Ministries building near campus.
KU’s Campus Historic Preservation Board already has signed off on the project.
No firm timetable had been set for construction, Steeples said. Kansas Athletics Inc. continues seeking donors to pay up front for access to Gridiron Club seats for anywhere from five years to 30 years into the future, starting with the 2010 season.
Construction could begin by year’s end, he said.
“If they’re going to get it active for next season, they’ve got to get cranking,” Steeples said.
Although he has yet to review KU’s proposal, Chuck Soules, the city’s director of public works, said that rebuilding the road likely would cost anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000.
Steeples said that the source of financing would be “up for discussion,” considering that the realignment would be an improvement that would benefit both KU and the city overall.
But Soules noted that the change was being requested by KU, on its own property, to benefit one of its own construction projects.
“We’ll work with them if they want to do it, but I’m assuming they’ll have to fund it,” Soules said. “You look at it as a development. … I know it’s KU, but from our perspective it’s a development. Any road improvements or modifications that are necessary to the street network are paid for by the development.”
The offset intersections at 11th and Mississippi generally handle about 13,000 vehicles per day, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation. Traffic picks up on football game days, as thousands of fans converge on the stadium.
The city finances a game-day bus service that shuttles fans between downtown and the stadium, and KU’s plans for the relocated street and new parking lots include a “bus transit hub” just south of where Illinois Street now ends.