Regents approve expansion of Memorial Stadium

An exterior shot of the proposed 3,000-seat addition to Memorial Stadium that will include the Gridiron Club.

An exterior shot of the proposed 3,000-seat addition to Memorial Stadium that will include the Gridiron Club.

September 17, 2009, 10:45 a.m. Updated September 17, 2009, 4:52 p.m.


Regents approve seating expansion

The plan for expanded seating at Memorial Stadium was approved Thursday. The seats will be for those who sign contracts to become part of the Grid Iron Club. Enlarge video

— The Kansas Board of Regents all but did the wave.

The board on Thursday approved a $34 million addition of high-dollar seating on the east side of Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium, and praised the proposal.

Under the deal, Kansas Athletics Inc. will direct $40 million — a portion of revenue expected from the sale of 3,000 Gridiron Club seats — to academic programs at KU.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little called the proposal a “signal event.” She said it will increase the seating capacity, add to the stadium’s aesthetics, and pump money into academic programs.

And just a few hours after getting permission to move forward, the athletics department launched an aggressive campaign to encourage Jayhawk fans to sign a five to 30 year contract for the seats, at costs ranging from $30,000 for those who sign the five-year contract to $105,000 for those who sign on for 30 years.

All payments will be required up front and KU, according to its Web site, hopes to have the building up in time for the 2010 football season.

According to information that KU is providing on its new Web site devoted to the project, fans can choose from indoor seating, outdoor seating or a combination of the two.

In a letter to donors on that site, Athletic Director Lew Perkins said the new facility was needed to finance not only the academic contribution, but also upgrades to other Olympic sport facilities, including the Olympic Sports Village, which was unveiled earlier this year.

“It would be easy to take a breather, but now is not the time to rest. We must continue our momentum,” Perkins wrote.

Those who purchase the Gridiron will receive Williams Educational Fund Priority Points based on the length of the contract they sign and will be able to pass on their suites to a family member, or sell the suite to someone else if they choose to give it up.

The Williams Fund will hold presentations about the club every Tuesday and Thursday starting Tuesday and running until Nov. 12. The sessions last from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Chancellor’s Room of the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Regent Donna Shank said she has read about universities in other states donating athletic funds to academics and was proud to have the same thing happening in Kansas.

“Congratulations to you. Bravo,” Shank said to Gray-Little.

The cost of the project will be paid by Kansas Athletics.

Gray-Little said no decision has been made yet on specific areas to spend the money that is earmarked for academics.


more_cowbell 8 years, 6 months ago

Hmm, perhaps reduce student tuition? More academic grants and scholarships for low-income students? Just a thought...

Steve Miller 8 years, 6 months ago

fans can choose from indoor seating, outdoor seating or a combination of the two.

For those prices, they oght to fly the fan to cancun for a week so they can watch it on t.v. from a motel while sipping mint juleps. Or better yet, just have them send a check to cover the cause.

Steve Miller 8 years, 6 months ago

Sorry, they'll probably get a free corn dog if they show up on time.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 6 months ago

Good move; this should be cool. Rock Chalk.

The_Voice_of_Reason 8 years, 6 months ago

Cowbell your missing the point here... Grants and poor people cost the University money... Rich people bring in money... Duh!

flicker 8 years, 6 months ago

This will be fantastic for our city and is a forward thinking move. Great job.

Write2Know 8 years, 6 months ago

I wonder if those rich people realize they will be looking right into the sun during evening games. Maybe thats why KU is trying to start more and more of the games at 11:00am.

thanksforcoming 8 years, 6 months ago

I think some people would rather see about 65 people at games instead of pack the house. I wonder if some people realize that Memorial Stadium is one of the smaller stadiums of all Division I football. What do the nay sayers think about places like "The Big House," that seats over 100,000 people. Think of all those people screaming "Rip is head off!!" That might be the end of Lawrence as we know it!! This is the beginning of something great not only for the school and community but the entire state.

roger_o_thornhill 8 years, 6 months ago

When will they address parking for games/in general. I live a mile from the stadium and still I have to put up a no parking sign on game days. WTF? Businesses all the way up to Iowa St. have to put up "No Football Parking" signs. Again WTF? And forget about it if your life doesn't revolve around KU sports. And don't forget: People won't pay that kind of money to see a mediocre team which means even more money will have to be poured into the program to keep up performance (since everyone knows that the more money you pay your coaches, the more they win--yeah, that proves itself to be so true every season!).

Also, when is that $40 mil going to show up?

corduroypants 8 years, 6 months ago

Like the idea, but that addition is kinda ugly.

BigAl 8 years, 6 months ago

Write2Know... KU doesn't set the starting times. That is dictated by Television and the Big12.

Roger 0 thornhill.... The fact that you, and others, have to put up a "No Parking" sign pales in comparison to the good this will bring to the city, the university, the students and the fans.

Cody Stumma 8 years, 6 months ago

Great... even less parking in that lot now...

Michael Stanclift 8 years, 6 months ago

$40m would cover most if not all of the tuition for a degree for about 2,000 students.

Or boost salaries for staff and faculty, or create more positions.

Or build some really nice academic facilities.

But I guess giving the rich more space to relax while watching football is more important...

flicker 8 years, 6 months ago

corduroypants -

I just noticed that myself. Hopefully they will change the appearance of the structure as it does look a little bland.

mdfraz 8 years, 6 months ago

Marshalus, have you missed that the athletics department is donating $40 million to the University's academic funds? Apparently so.

Matt Warman 8 years, 6 months ago

I like the addition and feel it will help make the stadium more intimidating to visiting teams, plus help with recruiting. I hope the Athletic Department addresses parking next, because the football parking sucks.

sturgen 8 years, 6 months ago

I grew up where college football was big. 75,000+ fans every game. It is nice to finally see our team here moving forward, adding seats, fans, $$$ all of which will rocket the university into the spotlight bringing more students, higher quality players/competition and yep...more $$$. I have a hard time listening to anyone who says that downtown business' are adverse to having an extra 20,000-50,000 up to 75,000 people come to town flush with money to spend on our dying Mass Street taking up a few spaces. Whiner....

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