Tourism opportunity

Local officials should be taking a hard look at how the original rules of basketball might be used to anchor a major tourist attraction.

July 12, 2011


The prospect of bringing James Naismith’s original rules of basketball to Lawrence opens a window of opportunity for Kansas University and local tourism.

Last week, it was reported that Kansas Athletics Inc. was working with an architectural firm on plans to house the rules in Lawrence, perhaps in an addition to Allen Fieldhouse and the existing Booth Family Hall of Athletics. The fieldhouse is a logical choice for the display, but before this project moves forward, KU athletics officials should involve local tourist officials in discussions about exactly what their goals are for displaying the rules.

Any plan, of course, must gain the full approval of David Booth, the KU alumnus who paid $4.3 million for the two typewritten pages at auction last December. As Booth said after the purchase, the rules are “serious stuff” that must be displayed in a highly secure setting. The question, however, is whether the main goal of a rules display should be simply to preserve and protect the document or whether it might be used as a centerpiece for a broader attraction based on Lawrence’s important ties to the history of basketball.

Although Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball in 1891 in Springfield, Mass., he brought that game to KU in 1898 and lived here until his death in 1939. He coached at KU until he turned the reins over to Forrest C. “Phog” Allen in 1908. Naismith, who is known as the “father of basketball,” reportedly dubbed Allen, KU’s winningest coach of all time, as the “father of basketball coaching.” Both men are buried in Lawrence.

Across the last 113 years, KU’s basketball coaches, players and fans have provided a notable legacy. Any fan of basketball, and especially college basketball, would be a potential visitor to an exhibit that showcased that history — especially if that exhibit was anchored by the original basketball rules complete with Naismith’s handwritten notes. Working together, it seems KU and Lawrence officials could create a basketball-based attraction that would be a major tourist draw for the city, something that would put Lawrence on the map for basketball enthusiasts.

Maybe Allen Fieldhouse is the best place for such a display, but perhaps other locations that provide easier access and parking should be considered. Booth indicated last week that keeping costs for the exhibit at a reasonable level was a priority. It’s good to be frugal, but that shouldn’t keep university and city officials from thinking bigger about how to capitalize on the basketball rules to create a broader tourist attraction.

Next to its connections to Bleeding Kansas, Lawrence’s most unique and marketable story for tourism may be its basketball history. David Booth’s willingness to display the Naismith rules in Lawrence presents an important opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.


Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 8 months ago

Just to show old basketball rules, which are important to see by themselves, is not enough to bring tourists and visitors to Lawrence. It is important to include other ideas. How about, for example, kids' camps all summer, which would include academics and nature, not just basketball? These could be combined with soccer, for example.

I haven't seen the original rules. How are they different from the present ones?

It's ideas like these which will bring tourists, not the display of old rules of basketball by themselves, without the additional attachment of activities all summer long, which would bring tourists from throughout the Midwest and even the coasts.


Scott Morgan 6 years, 8 months ago

Want to improve tourism. Place the rules in a special display room near the twin Clinton Lake hotels, next to the water side affordable cabins, adjacent to the giant open to the public marina featuring on the water bars and restaurants.

Get the heart pills Corp of Engineer workers are dropping like flies after reading this.

blindrabbit 6 years, 8 months ago

This coupled with Lawrence touting itself as an island of political sanity in a state that is slipping into a right-wing nutty morass should attract sane visitors. In addition to the KU Art and Natural History Museums, the Freedom Frontier Museum, an improved City Museum; Lawrence should consider building a Museum to highlight the State's nuts! Candidates for inclusion would include the following: Goat Gland Doctor, Todd Tiahrt, Steve Abrams, Fred Phelps, Kris Kobach (aka KKK), Sam (C Street) Brownback, Phill Kline, Kansas School Board, Dorothy, Toto, John Brown, Lynn Jenkins, Pat (Bush Lacky) Roberts, Jim Ryun, Scott Roeder and featuring and funded by the Koch Brothers. "God bless us every one"!

KU_cynic 6 years, 8 months ago

Suppose Lawrence had a napkin on which Einstein had first wrote E=MC^2, the original twinkie recipe on a kraft paper bag, or a sealed masonry jar containing tobacco juice spat by Ulysses S. Grant ... and other such curiosities: would that really bring the tourists here?

Get real.

That Clinton Lake waterfront idea sounds like a good one, though. Right next to the vibrant and accessible sesquicentennial park.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

"Suppose Lawrence had a napkin on which Einstein had first wrote E=MC^2"

Lawrence used to have Einstein's brain.

somedude20 6 years, 8 months ago

Maybe if Lawrence could get the giant ball of twine or the worlds largest frying pan or even that giant ball of tape from Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations.

Does Kansas really get that much tourism? Cosmosphere or Air & Space? Black Jack's little field or Gettysburg?

Lawrence is nice but other than sporting events what would bring someone here from Ohio or FL or NM? Every place has something to see but is it worth it for others to spend a ton of money on gas, food, hotels? Cleveland sucks but they have the Rock'n'Roll Hall and that is worth the trip what does Kansas have?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 8 months ago

How about scheduling on KU sporting or Bicycle event days:

  1. A sidewalk sale

  2. On Mass Street a farmers market/carnival to include: A. Local Growers B. Local Artists C. Two Live Bands and dancing D. Buskers E. sidewalk sale activity

So sport fans know coming to Lawrence is going to be a real good time .... better that ever before.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 8 months ago

Took a day trip to around Central Kansas Sat. Drove by Melvern ? Lake. Perfect corp lake in the minds of people who get paid by our taxes. One side of the lake not a boat in sight. The launching area had 4 cars parked, all Kansas plates. Your options if not a tow a boat drop it in, pull it out, drive home for boating. Nothing. Nice little hotel in Lebo, one could dine to the sound of the nearby Interstate. What fun!

Now picture Melvern with cabins, lakeside hotels and restaurants. If you build it they will come. Folks we are missing the "boat" bigtime by not allowing development on our lakes.

Oh, Table Rock Lake area has new road projects going due to too many tourists using the existing roads.

xclusive85 6 years, 8 months ago

Are you talking central Kansas north to south? Melvern Lake is almost straight south of Topeka, making it still in eastern Kansas, right?

Scott Morgan 6 years, 8 months ago

Yea, you are correct, should have noted East Central, or East. Still take any section of the state. We did head through Pomona too. Same old Pamona, wish they could benefit with some tourist bucks.

jmadison 6 years, 8 months ago

How was the money spent by the county after their 8% property tax increase last year that was slated for rural ecotourism?

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