No, the concessions stands won’t be ready. Nor the press box. Or the restrooms.
And don’t expect air-conditioned trailers for relief when the Lions of Lawrence High School welcome Leavenworth to open the football season Sept. 3, said Frank Harwood, chief operations officer for the Lawrence school district.
“We may not be able to get those, because they’re already committed to Kansas Speedway — and they probably have a longer-term contract,” said Harwood, noting that traditional Port-A-Potties likely would be used instead.
But the district is confident that its temporary restrooms, concessions stands and other offerings will be very much a short-term fix, as construction continues on more substantial projects at the LHS football stadium, 1901 La.:
• Two buildings, each containing restrooms and concessions. One is going up near the south end zone, and the foundation is set for another at the field’s northeast corner. Cost: $675,000.
• A press box behind and above the east stands, looking across the field and over the visitors’ sideline toward the home fans and LHS team on the other side. Cost: $496,000.
Officials are pushing to have the first concessions and restrooms building available by LHS’ second home game, Sept. 17 against Shawnee Mission South. The press box is expected to be finished by Sept. 30, a couple days before Olathe East comes to town.
“The good thing is we went a whole season last year without those facilities, so we can do it for one more game,” said Matt Brungardt, Lawrence High principal.
More work could be on the way later this fall.
A group of alumni and boosters is gathering donations to enhance the fan experience at the new on-campus field and more.
The organization, called LHS Building on Traditions, already has collected $130,000 in donations to be used for adding:
• A brick-and-stone enclosure for the main scoreboard near the north end zone.
• Two ticket booths, each enclosed in brick-and-stone entryways. One would be adjacent to each of the concessions/restrooms buildings, allowing spectators at either end to come in through an entry reminiscent of the iconic arch at Haskell Stadium.
The Lions have been playing on their own campus for only one year, but supporters are counting on the new features — preliminary estimated cost: $120,000 — to help continue the winning tradition, all without cost to taxpayers.
“We know the district money only goes so far,” said Doug Gaston, co-chair of the fundraising effort and who has had sons play for the Lions. “It’s unfair for them to spend their money on window dressing. The district has given us an opportunity to do this, and we feel it’s in the best interest of Lawrence High to dress it up a little bit and make it as first-class a facility as we can.”
Enclosing scoreboards is also part of the group’s plans for the baseball, softball and soccer fields at LHS.
“The district can only go so far,” Gaston said. “The checkbook has a padlock on it. We’re just trying to take the investments made by the district and build on them.”
Across town at the stadium at Free State High School, members of the Fritzel family donated a building for locker rooms, storage, offices, restrooms and concessions. The project used the same limestone used for The Oread, just north of the Kansas University campus.
The work at Lawrence High will feature brick similar to materials in the high school itself, plus split-faced concrete block like that used for the bleachers.
“This was an effort to bring the equality to the two (schools’) sports fields, the two athletics fields, to get each of them on par and have the same components and the same programs,” said Chris Cunningham, an architect for Treanor Architects, which is donating services to LHS Building on Traditions. “Now both have press boxes. They both have concessions. They both have restroom facilities.”
Marshall Rawley, a Lawrence High senior, is looking forward to the work getting done, and not just because it’ll open up more parking spaces with construction crews out of the way.
“Now,” he said, “it’ll make us matched up with Free State.”