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.