Archive for Thursday, July 12, 2012

KU AD Zenger: Memorial Stadium changes coming … just not for a while

The renovation of Memorial Stadium and removal of the track that surrounds its field — seen here on Wednesday, July 12, 2012 — are projects many in the Kansas University football community would welcome. KU officials continue to explore their options regarding a stadium face-lift, but KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said any plans are on hold until a new home is found for the Jayhawk track and field programs.

The renovation of Memorial Stadium and removal of the track that surrounds its field — seen here on Wednesday, July 12, 2012 — are projects many in the Kansas University football community would welcome. KU officials continue to explore their options regarding a stadium face-lift, but KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said any plans are on hold until a new home is found for the Jayhawk track and field programs.

July 12, 2012


When Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger someday decides to give Memorial Stadium a makeover, it won’t be at the request of new football coach Charlie Weis.

Although he has yet to coach a game in the place, Weis recently offered a positive review of his new home stadium.

“I mean, sure, would you like to have suites on the other side and take the track out and sink the field a little bit more and have the stands closer to the field? Sure. Great,” Weis said. “That would be wonderful. But I have no complaints with this place.”

Neither do the dozens of people who have come through his office since he took over last December. Although Weis can see what Memorial Stadium could one day become, he said he was happy to leave the daydreaming to the fans and would gladly live with the picture-perfect view from his corner office at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

“People love this view,” said Weis, from a story above the field, looking out from the southwest corner of the venue. “They love what the stadium looks like from this office. There isn’t one person who’s come in here who hasn’t said, ‘That’s awesome.’ I’m talking recruits, their parents, everyone. So when everyone else is complaining about the place, everyone that walks in here says, ‘God, what a view. What a place.’”

That includes Zenger, who, believe it or not, is still just in his second year on the job. During his first 18 months in town, Zenger has hired and fired a few coaches, successfully helped navigate KU through the uneasy waters of conference realignment and done everything in his power to change the way KU athletics is viewed, both by those inside the walls and the even larger faction of people on the outside.

It’s tasks such as those that forced Zenger to push renovations — at nearly all of KU’s facilities — to the back burner, but that does not mean stadium plans have been forgotten.

“We will do something very special with Memorial Stadium,” Zenger said. “But we want to make sure we honor what we have, and we want to make sure we do it right, because we only get one chance.”

The point of contention for most includes removal of the track that surrounds Memorial Stadium’s playing surface. In order to do that, Zenger and company first need to complete the ongoing search for a new home for KU’s track programs. Until that is settled — something that seems to be drawing closer each month — nothing can or will be done to Memorial Stadium, Zenger said.

Even when that day arrives, Zenger made sure to emphasize that any changes to any of KU’s athletic facilities would be made with the idea of paying tribute to the past as a top priority.

“Our history is what makes us different at the University of Kansas,” Zenger said. “Whether it be our traditions or what we’ve done competitively, and whether it be in basketball, track and field or football, we have a rich, rich legacy at the University of Kansas. And we want to be very careful as we plan for the future that we always move forward without damaging that legacy.”

Zenger, who also made sure to point out that he and his department were excited about the possibilities and eager to get to work, compared the current Memorial Stadium conundrum to the uncertain future that faced the Jayhawks’ basketball facility not long ago.

“I think we would all regret had we, years ago, built some sort of coliseum or arena to replace Allen Fieldhouse,” he said. “And I also think we would regret doing anything to Memorial Stadium that does not maintain the significance of that stadium’s place in the history and lore of Kansas football and our commencement ceremonies. We have a historic stadium, and anything we do to that football stadium is going to honor what I think is one of the greatest locations in the nation for a football stadium. We have one of the true stadiums left in the Midwest.”


manginorh00lz 4 years ago

Take note: the Athletic Director purposefully calls it "the University of Kansas" while the worldlj continues with the disrespectful "Kansas University."

Vince Brown 4 years ago

I haven't been paying attention. What's this controversy about Kansas University and University of Kansas? Enlighten me, please.

somebodynew 4 years ago

There really isn't one. It just exists in some people's minds who, apparently, do not have more important things to fret about.

Phoghorn 4 years ago

Keep the track! Keep the Kansas Relays in Memorial Stadium!

That ugly chain link fence at the south end needs to go, however.

COjayrocks 4 years ago

Keep the Kansas Relays in Lawrence...but not the stadium. Track events there are dwarfed by the 52,000 person stadium, making the event seem empty. The existence of the track makes the football program seem second-rate. Almost zero other D1 programs have a combination track and football stadium.

A great solution is the proposed track at the SLT project. Big enough to host the Kansas relays to keep the tradition in Lawrence, which ultimately benefits the city as much as the University.

Leo Hawkins 4 years ago

I completely agree with your comments.

Jayhawk1963 4 years ago

I agree although improving the stadium shouldn't be "way down the list". These things; winning games, improving recruiting, renovating the stadium, etc., are all interrelated to a large extent. I seem to recall someone (ESPN spokesman?) recently commenting on how poor Memorial stadium was.

gorilla10 4 years ago

KU desperately needs to build an olympic village over by the baseball stadium. Soccer and softball also need new facilities. This would get more fans in the stands for some of the smaller programs that are just as important. Memorial stadium along with the softball and soccer complex are three of the worst facilities in the big12. If we want to compete and get recruits these facilities need upgrades desperately.....

Zenger is right! Memorial stadium's setting is one of the best so let's upgrade the stadium itself to give it an edge over someone other than Baylor and Iowa State!!!!!!

gorilla10 4 years ago

Didnt know about that thread but would love to hear more about it!!!!

ku_tailg8 4 years ago

I've been saying this for years. Drop the field and bring in the seats. Lose that stupid track which makes us look like division II. The stadium looks nice on campus but it is easily one of the worst stadiums in Div I.

ku_tailg8 4 years ago

Better yet, build a new stadium off campus. We can find the money. Allen Fieldhouse is great but that stadium is a dump.

Danimal 4 years ago

They need to be careful to maintain, and wherever possible improve on the Memorial Stadiums role as the memorial the University built to the 127 students and faculty killed in action in World War I. I would hate to see Memorial Stadium become just another shrine to big business, and football while the soldiers and their sacrifice is forgotten.

fromlarryville 4 years ago

Allen fieldhouse and memorial stadium need to be more ADA friendly. Most venues today have hand rails on the steps. Just a thought.

thinkinganalytically 4 years ago

When the Athletic Corporation stops taking mandatory fees from the students enrolled at the University of Kansas, I say let the Athletic Corporation do what it wants with the funds that it generates. Until then, the Athletic Corporation should make do with what it has. Students who come to the University of Kansas for an education should not be forced to pay to renovate a football stadium or any other athletic facility that is not open for use for the general student population.

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