KU facilities fix lies in West Campus

August 23, 2012


When you’re just about the oldest person in the room and you’re the one making the rookie mistake, it doesn’t exactly inflate the ego.

Still conditioned by my early education at the hands (the ones that bashed my head into a concrete wall) of a sadistic nun, I tend to raise my hand in a crowded news conference, instead of shouting out a question, but that wasn’t my rookie mistake. That came when it finally was my turn Thursday.

Instead of being as specific as possible, I used the word “facilities” as a euphemism for “modern toilet,” and Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby understandably thought I meant stadiums, etc., when I asked him to compare Kansas University’s to those at Stanford, where he served as athletic director.

A better way to ask the question: Did you know that when KU softball’s starting pitcher needs relief — there I go again; I don’t mean help from the bullpen, I mean bladder relief — she must walk into a trailer and use what amounts to a glorified port-o-potty?

True story, but it’s kept a secret because the more opposing coaches who know that, the tougher recruiting becomes for KU’s coaches. They all know it anyway, and most of them use it in recruiting.

Here’s my proposal for how KU can eliminate that facilities embarrassment, save the city of Lawrence a bundle and help two other sports: Sell to the city a big enough piece of West Campus to build the proposed city recreation center and KU soccer and track and field venues at a bargain-basement price and use some of the proceeds to bring softball facilities into the 21st century.

Building it at the proposed site on the western edge of town would require a significant infrastructure expense. Building on a portion of what now is KU property would enable the city to tie into existing infrastructure.

Here’s why it’s so important the city owns the land: The NCAA won’t allow schools to serve as on-campus hosts for AAU basketball tournaments. Having them in Lawrence helps recruiting because players and parents check out the campus and town and fall in love. To a shockingly large extent, the better the team performs, the better the town feels emotionally.

Here’s why putting the new sports complex next to campus makes more sense — and many questions still need to be answered to see if it makes sense financially — than on the edge of town: KU’s soccer and track and field athletes won’t feel like they’re being sent to sit in the corner.


Robert Rauktis 5 years, 9 months ago

"Here’s why it’s so important the city owns the land: The NCAA won’t allow schools to serve as on-campus hosts for AAU basketball tournaments.":

i'd bet if they wanted, the NCAA could amend their law faster than the city could dump the land, except to the usual culprits. And get involved in that morass for some theoretical augment for the current rich man of athletics?

somebodynew 5 years, 9 months ago

Great article Keegan !!! AND it makes sense. But, good luck. It is just my feeling, but the 'fix is in' on this Rec Center being out by K-10. Somebody got stars in their eyes over 'free land' and we are being sold a bill of goods that is going to cost us a fortune - - but we won't be told that until it is too late.

Your idea (while it still needs figures to go with it) seems to make a whole lot more sense. But then the developer doesn't get his big commercial development pushed through with no delays.

BringBackMark 5 years, 9 months ago

Tom, that is the perfect plan and one I've told numerous people would make great sense. Furthermore, if the 15th street interchange is completed with the trafficway, the access would actually be pretty good. That land has sat there for as long as I've been here (36 years) doing nothing but producing a few hay bales each year. The best thing about the whole plan is that it would free up the site currently being looked at for the rec center to be what it should be, a commercial gateway to the City that would certainly generate much more than $6 million per year, or whatever pultry amount of revenue they discussed coming from the rec center.

Let's push this and put a stop to the massive spending that will occur at Hwy 40 and the trafficway!

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