Archive for Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Clearer picture emerges of proposed recreation center

July 24, 2012


This architect rendering of the proposed recreation center in northwest Lawrence shows the 172,000-square-foot fieldhouse. The drawing was provided by Paul Werner Architects and GouldEvans.

This architect rendering of the proposed recreation center in northwest Lawrence shows the 172,000-square-foot fieldhouse. The drawing was provided by Paul Werner Architects and GouldEvans.

This architect rendering of the proposed recreation center in northwest Lawrence shows the site plan with the rec center, at left in white, and the Kansas University track stadium. The drawing was provided by Paul Werner Architects and GouldEvans.

This architect rendering of the proposed recreation center in northwest Lawrence shows the site plan with the rec center, at left in white, and the Kansas University track stadium. The drawing was provided by Paul Werner Architects and GouldEvans.

New details — along with a few new financial questions — emerged Monday night about a proposed recreation complex in northwest Lawrence.

City officials told a crowd of about 75 people at a public meeting at Free State High School that preliminary plans show that a recreation complex at the intersection of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway could include a 172,000-square-foot fieldhouse with eight high school-sized gymnasiums, a 10,000-seat track and field stadium, and parking for more than 800 vehicles.

“This will name Lawrence as one of the top amateur recreation communities in the U.S.,” said Mayor Bob Schumm.

The plans presented Monday night were the most detailed yet but also sparked questions about whether Kansas University is making a large enough financial contribution to the project.

The draft plans, which have been developed by Lawrence-based Paul Werner Architects and GouldEvans architects, show KU would have a 10,000-seat track and field stadium, a 2,000-seat soccer field, a press box, concessions area and a locker room facility on the 50-acre site that is expected to be donated to the city by a group led by Lawrence businessmen Duane and Steve Schwada.

KU and its donors will pay for the construction and maintenance costs of the facilities, but City Manager David Corliss said KU is not expected to make any sort of lease payment to the city for use of the ground. KU also is not expected to pay any of the costs related to extending infrastructure to the site, which is at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

Corliss also said it is not anticipated that the general public will have access to the KU outdoor facilities, such as to use the track for walking or jogging.

But city officials said they are confident KU’s involvement in the project will greatly enhance the overall benefit to the community by creating a synergy that wouldn’t exist if the city were simply building a stand-alone recreation center.

“The city may be providing some infrastructure,” said Jana Dawson, a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. “But KU will be providing a lot of people, and that is what will create the economic development benefits for the community.”

Elite group

Audience members also were told the KU track and field stadium is expected to put Lawrence in the running to host the NCAA National Track and Field Championships, the Big 12 Conference Track and Field Championships and several other national-level meets. That’s in part because the KU facility would become only the sixth track in the U.S. ranked as a class one facility by IAAF, the world governing body for track and field.

“With our location, it will be one of the most desirable tracks in the country,” Sean Lester, an associate athletic director for KU, told the crowd. “And these events attract thousands of people, not hundreds.”

City officials also provided more details about the proposed 172,000-square-foot recreation center/fieldhouse that would be owned and operated by the city. Those details included:

• The fieldhouse portion of the building will include eight 84-by-50-foot basketball courts. Those eight full courts can be converted into 16 smaller courts. The courts will be designed to accommodate both basketball and volleyball. The fieldhouse could accommodate about 1,900 spectators with roll-out bleachers, but additional spectators could watch from a mezzanine level.

• A 5,000-square-foot gymnastics area with an overhead spectator viewing area is included in the plans.

• Lawrence Memorial Hospital continues to explore the possibility of locating a wellness center at the facility.

• An approximately 12,000-square-foot multipurpose area could include an area for uses such as basketball, batting cages and an indoor turf area.

• A 12-foot-wide, 1/8th of a mile track would be built on a mezzanine level.

• The building also would include a fitness/weight room, a dance/aerobics area, locker rooms, three party rental rooms and a concessions area.

Public use

City officials said the facility is being designed so that it can be used by both the general public and tournament crowds at the same time. Corliss said areas such as the fitness areas, walking track and multipurpose area always would be open to the general public, even if a major tournament is being hosted at the facility.

Corliss also detailed how city money from its share of the countywide one-cent sales tax could be used to pay for the facility. Plans still call for the city to execute a lease purchase agreement with a nonprofit foundation run by Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel and his family. The city would pay the foundation $1.2 million a year for 20 years, for a total of $24 million. After the 20-year period, the city would own the building.

But some members of the public said they still wanted to see more detail about how this project fits in with other city priorities, such as a new police headquarters building, a new sewage treatment plant, and whether a possible decline in state revenues could affect the city’s finances.

City commissioners are expected to discuss the project at their Aug. 7 City Commission meeting, and will seek public comment on the proposal at that time.


biggunz 5 years ago

"KU and its donors will pay for the construction and maintenance costs of the facilities"

"..on the 50-acre site that is expected to be donated to the city..."

So the city doesn't pay to build the facility or pay for the land. What's the problem??

Keith 5 years ago

It sounds to me like KU will pay to build the parts they reserve for their own use, not the whole thing.

flyin_squirrel 5 years ago

Build it! It will be a huge economic boost to the city!

BigAl 5 years ago

Couldn't agree more. There is always a lot of whining about this sort of thing but the long term benefit to the City and the University is outstanding.

Liberty275 5 years ago

I don't know about Fritzel and don't really care. They are going to put it somewhere, so that's the problem. I tend to agree with you though, that Lawrence east of about the 6th street Wendy's is getting the dirty and of the stick. But where else are you going to put it? If you put it east, people there won't have the money to use it. South and the Native Americans will fight you. North might as well be Arkansas. Maybe 23rd and Iowa, but I'm not sure their is adequate room to keep what they have there for school use only, and build new school and public facilities.

Besides, from east Lawrence, it will be 5 minutes away when the SLT is finished. If anyone is really getting the shaft here, it is people that live close to downtown.

1southernjayhawk 5 years ago

Who do you have over there willing to gift the land?

kansasredlegs 5 years ago

By definition it's not a gift. Taxpayers are extending $14M of public infrastructure to the rest of 1%'s land to make the rest of their 90 acres exponentially more valuable. Mayor Schump even said he fixed that unfairness by adding a Special Tax District so everyone but the local 1% have to pay for this tax monster

repaste 5 years ago

He is not gifting the land - he is exchanging it for zoning variances and infrastructure improvements worth far more. Not to mention that 120k check every month.

Stuart Evans 5 years ago

maybe it's because people on the West side of town don't feel compelled to pawn their belongings or take out a short term loan to acquire liquor... I'm sure that if there were a major influx of West-towners flooding into Check-n-Go, they would set up a shop out there.

Clint Church 5 years ago

Why don't they build it on the NW corner of 23rd and Iowa and move the intermural fields out there. It seems like anyone from out of town isn't going to want to drive all over town to get to there hotels.

elliottaw 5 years ago

yeah I know becasue i takes all of 10 minutes if you hit all the red lights to get across Lawrence, I have played on travel teams and trust me distance from the fields is not an issue in Lawrence

Matt Schwartz 5 years ago

That's like five or six miles to drive 'all over town.'What's the problem with that?

Jayhawker07 5 years ago

OK! So my understanding is that they where modeling this off of a concept in Texas, south of Fort Worth. These guys are blowing smoke and mirrors on us. Not even close. I can't even find that post any more. Can anyone help me on that one. I was for it when I read what they did. Help me posters!!!

Jayhawker07 5 years ago

OK! Is anybody going to respond? My thought outside of that is, why can we not have just a normal rec center for the public? Whats up with all the cash from the property owners. This is crazy. Oread parking (underground) garage. Remember, the only reason they could make the hotel possible was if they could create ($11million) that much parking. Wrong, they turned most of that underground parking into bars (The Cave), Rental space for privite parties and cleaning for the hotel. Oh, they did fit in few parking spots for the hotel and can you imagine, parking for the OWNERS. OMG. Where the heck do the employees park? On the street! Like we had parking already set up for that. Smoke and mirrors again. And I forgot they added the smoke stacks (cell towers on a footnote on the blueprint) that they did not show on the rendering that was presented to the taxpayer. I say no to the rec center. Anyone else agree. Please post yea or nea. Otherwise we will be writing a blank check again. And don't get me on the library movie rental place either ($20mill).

Jayhawker07 5 years ago

On another note, if we do want a facility like that why don't we add it on to what we already own out at the fields off of the south lawrence trafficway and Wakarusa. Hey, we own the land, easy access and it is already there. What do you think will happen to that if we build this rec center? It will turn into a field of dreams for sure. Could a, should a, would a. These folks are not on our side ever. One side, there side only.

flyin_squirrel 5 years ago

SLT and Wakarusa cannot handle the traffic this facility will create. That intersection is already a dangerous one.

kansasredlegs 5 years ago

Like the pool, what will it cost the homeowner who is already paying for it be forced to pay to use this tax monster?

Topple 5 years ago

That's what I want to know. I'd consider using it if it's reasonably priced for membership.

Jayhawker07 5 years ago

Good point, look at the riverfront mall. Planned to fail to be bought up by pennies on the dollar. Now that would have been a nice library with plenty of parking. Of course, not in lawrence though. Call Center now / hotel. I so need to check out of here.

Lawrence Morgan 5 years ago

It looks like Mayor Bob Schumm is really buying into this thing. Bigger and better. As a matter or fact, much bigger - but I still don't understand who is going to benefit. We need far greater details on that.

I myself would prefer smaller, more intimate rec and education/library centers all over town. That would make a great deal of sense to me, instead of this huge contraption with certain parts that are only for KU use.

I think it's moving much too fast. This city, and its people, need a lot more information first.

Chad Lawhorn 5 years ago

Jana Dobbs should have read Jana Dawson. It is the same person but she recently married and changed her name. My apologies. Chad

Sharon Nottingham 5 years ago This is a national fitness center being built in Knoxville, TN. Very cool architecture, but Lawrence needs to realize in order to have a nice facility like that, you need to have a HUGE population's tax base to support it.

Take a look around at our current park & rec buildings. They are run-down, the Community Bldg's basement smells like sewage in the hallways and makes it almost unbearable to take classes. Our tax money really should go towards improvements to what we already have before we go building a very large complex. Just because you build it, doesn't mean they will come. If KU is involved, then I fear that the public usage of the facility will be a very small portion and the rest will be reserved for KU.

Sharon Nottingham 5 years ago

Also the architeture rendering of the proposed building looks oddly similar to Pittsburg State University's Weede Gymnasium. PLEASE, if you are going to move forward in creating renderings, come up with something original and with some character! Boring box-shaped building.

irvan moore 5 years ago

my worry is that we have the city leaders making a deal with the university leaders, who do you think has the smarter leaders and will end up with the best end of the deal

elliottaw 5 years ago

So we are using all this money to build from fields for KU and a few backetball courts? What happen to the rock climbing walls, racquetball courts, daycare for people using the gym, all of that seems lost now. Lets build things that people want, there is one racquetball court in Holcomb and it is always full, how about a few more of those and one less basketball court, you can fit about 6 of them in the same about of space.

Jayhawk1958 5 years ago

In otherwords we pay our tax dollars for it and either can't use it or there are no facilities/activies to meet our needs.

kernal 5 years ago

in light of KU loosing some of their state and federal funding and now is having to look to increased donations, I'm not so sure KU will be able to maintain their end of the bargain. Part of that question is will KU be able to get those donations they need for their existing obligations to staff and students AND take on this project?

Also, the drought is not going away anytime soon and there's a good chance it may last through next summer. As that occurs our still fragile economy will take a major hit, especially in this area of the U.S. due to dwindling water resources.

Don't let Fritzel and his cronies push the commission into anything the city and KU cannot sustain.

flyin_squirrel 5 years ago

KU Athletic Corp will be paying for this, not the University of Kansas. They are two separate corporations, and KU Athletic Corp doesn't get money from the State or University, but rather has to pay the university for every athlete that attends on a scholarship.

Jayhawk1958 5 years ago

Actually they do, but its not much compared to the rest of their budget.

irnmadn88 5 years ago

800+ parking places. "Thousands of people." Just going with the capacity of the stadium of 10,000... if every vehicle in every parking space carried 5 spectators to the event, that is still less than half the capacity of the stadium. 1900+ spectators inside the field house averages to a little more than 2 persons per vehicle.

Either something is being left out, such as where overflow parking is going to be built- read as more commercial development, or the planning for parking is woefully inadequate for capacity.

Lest we forget that Lawrence will continue to expand to the NW due to geography and the lack of infrastructure to the south until a new water treatment plant is built. Add in the completion of the SW traffic way, USD 497 already owning land out there, and the planned commercial development corridor, one can see the "build it and they will come" mentality behind this project.

Horizon 2020.

Terry Sexton 5 years ago

Shut up about it & build it. It's an economic eden, folks, a cash cow waiting to calve some prosperity around here. If you don't see the benefits this project will bring, take another look. It's totally sustainable & offers benefits to the whole community with both dollars & recreation.

Patricia Davis 5 years ago

How do we stop this train? Wrong plan.Wrong time. If KU wants these facilities, let it pay the price. This is a load of Blue Algae.

Jayhawk1958 5 years ago

City Manager David Corliss said KU is not expected to make any sort of lease payment to the city for use of the ground.

Why not? Its not like Kansas Athletics is nonprofit.

Jayhawk1958 5 years ago

I don't see a lot available to the general public. Holcom has hardly any pick-up basketball time in the Winter because of youth leagues etc. I would hope they would always have two basketball courts open to the public anytime during operational hours.

Jayhawk1958 5 years ago

I thought Perkins was gone from KUAD...

mrkuwick 5 years ago

KU is involved because they need to get the track out of Memorial Stadium so that they can upgrade the stadium to D1 standards.

Phoghorn 5 years ago

You nailed it. Of course, this is really just superfluous as Memorial Stadium is already up to D1 standards.

Shelly Rodriguez 5 years ago

Got an idea!!! Instead of the city spending a ton of money of ANOTHER rec center, they could actually invest in our community and do something for the youth. Like, ya know, a skating rink, mini golf, arcade, etc...... Just doesnt make since to me! There is NOTHING for the youth of Lawrence to do. Sure, we have an over priced Hollywood Theater (That"s a JOKE). Oh and we have a bowling alley!!! WOOHOO!!!

Shelly Rodriguez 5 years ago

What exactly do you mean by "idle time"? As if these kids don't have enough idle time already! This city has nothing for kids/teens to do. Kids will find something to do and that's where the crime comes in!

Shelly Rodriguez 5 years ago

Ok! Gotcha!!! Just glad to know we are on the same page

Brian Hall 5 years ago

Skating rink used to be where Kohl's is now. Mini golf used to be at 31st and Iowa, arcades used to be scattered throughout the city. Lawrence had all these things and they all went out of business. Why do you think they went out of business? Because the kids weren't going.

I remember when I was a kid, I spent time outside playing with friends. We were able to use our imaginations to play a game and entertain ourselves. And this city is much better than it was when I was a kid. Where I lived was on the edge of town and there were no parks and the closest school was a mile away until the mid-1990s. Now every neighborhood has a park of some sort, there is public transportation that can take kids places, there are after school programs, youth sports and if you look hard enough there are probably other type of workshops kids might be interested in.

If your kids can't find something to do then you or they aren't trying hard enough. I spent my teens in a town of 3,000 and that's when the drugs, alcohol and crime come in. I don't exactly see or hear the kids or police complaining that since there's nothing to do in Lawrence, crime is going up.

BigAl 5 years ago

Respectfully disagree with you mama75. There is actually quite a bit for kids to do here. There are several youth basketball leagues, soccer and baseball leagues. There are bike trails, hiking trails and camping. There are both indoor and outdoor swimming pools. There are fishing spots all around including a very nice Clinton Lake.
Although for some reason you don't want to count them, there is a bowling alley and there is a movie theater.
And you say there is NOTHING?

BobEllis 5 years ago

Kind of agree with rockchalker52 ... isn't it possible our area ends up with a great new rec facility with a lot of options, and that track meet and tournament events cycle serious money into the local economy. Just sayin -- it is possible.

flyin_squirrel 5 years ago

I think it is more probable than possible. We also might be able to get the Sunflower State games back in Lawrence.

Jayhawk1958 5 years ago

SO why are we calling it a recreation center? Call it a convention center or something because that is really what it will be.

Carol Bowen 5 years ago

No tax money for a convention center. It's specifically for a rec center.

johnsont1 5 years ago


It's great that it has a lot of amenities, but how about some artistic creativity?

he_who_knows_all 5 years ago

What type of grass will be installed by the Fritzel family?

Mark Jakubauskas 5 years ago

Wow. That design has all the visual appeal of a tire factory.

Keith 5 years ago

Brought to you by the same folks who built the factory on the hill.

Carol Bowen 5 years ago

This is not even close to the rec center we voted for. The city should not even be involved with this project. Let the other entities build what they want.

Patricia Davis 5 years ago

If this goes forward without a vote, can we only hope lawsuits will happen to stop this bait and switch?

ezbreezy 5 years ago

They should also include: 1) Rock clibing area 2) Boxing/ kick boxing area 3) Child care center (possibly could generate $$) Ugly building, need to get another building designer!

patkindle 5 years ago

just build it asap add it to our tax bills nothing is too good for the kids it is just money

storm 5 years ago

That's a nice warehouse for Texans. However, what the fine upstanding educated and informed citizens of Lawrence, Kansas, USA, need and want is a recreational center like a YMCA.

squawkhawk 5 years ago

Here's an idea. Tear down the dump known as Memorial Stadium and build the rec center there. Build a new stadium where there will be plenty of room for parking and other amenities.

Phoghorn 5 years ago

No. Memorial Stadium is fine the way it is. We need to keep the track in Memorial Stadium so we can continue to host the Kansas Relays there.

Steve Jacob 5 years ago

Rumor has it that was an early demand of Weis to dump the track, everybody else did.

Jayhawk1958 5 years ago

The Relays are not very popular these days and its only once a year.

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

You can almost see the words "money pit" floating above the building in the picture.

blindrabbit 5 years ago

What's the skinny on the propsed upgrade of Memorial Stadium? By removing the track, how may seats could/would be added by dropping the stadium level; I'd guess maybe 8 rows and 5,000 seats at the most! What other expansion plans does KUAD envision at the stadium, is fancy East Side dead or still on the wish list, what about raising level in North horseshoe? Hopefully the South endzone is a sacred cow and off limits; don't want to spoil best view in conference!

blindrabbit 5 years ago

First look at the architectural rendering reminds me of Stonehenge! Why does Lawrence/KU have to live with classless architecture when the KU School of Architecture is supposedly on of the nation's best; do Paul Werner and Gould-Evans something against pleasing appearances; Library as another example! By-the-way this look is being already being constructed at the new giant warehouse out further west on the Farmer's Turnpike.

JackMcKee 5 years ago

This is way more promising than the library/parking garage/Cromwell memorial nonsense. I'm positive that Cromwell was not involved in this one, it actually has some value to the community.

JackMcKee 5 years ago

This could be the last nail in the coffin for LAC.

Steve Jacob 5 years ago

LAC fought against the Centennial Rec Center, so they could do the same here.

kernal 5 years ago

That is one ugly building. I was thinking it looks like a modern factory, but as Storm said it also looks like a warehouse.

The Rio Vista Rec Center design in Peoria, AZ is impressive but more suited to the desert than the Great Plains. Surely our local architects can come up with something more aesthetic than this.

Alex Parker 5 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Carol Bowen 5 years ago

Our local architects just produce textbook style structures. Broken Arrow and South Middle schools, the library are examples. I'll bet the more experienced architects are assigned to projects outside of Lawrence. Lawrence has no style, just generic buildings that look new.

blindrabbit 5 years ago

Originalbob; My comment about the South end zone at Memorial Staduim being a "sacred cow" needs further clarification! I was speaking about the Stadium structure itself and not the scoreboard and low bleacher variations that have changed over the past 20 years. Basically, the view of Campaneli Hill has been preserved, although somewhat obstructed by the larger scoreboard. The fact that the new football sports complex was built were it was has a lot to do with not further obstructing the "view" from the stadium. When i attended as a KUFF fan back in the 1950's, I appreciated the view of the bell tower from the North horseshoe, it kinda grows on ya! I don't think KU is going to mess with that concept very much!

gorilla 5 years ago

I think the proposed financing would be better applied to the recently proposed police facility. I'm not opposed to good recreational facilities, but I think good police and public safety should take priority over recreation

Jayhawk1958 5 years ago

The city seems only compelled for their own agenda. But how are we going to be able to oppose it without a bond issue? I mean once the city commission passes it it seems like a done deal.

Steve Jacob 5 years ago

You can always e-mail them and show up for the final meeting.

irvan moore 5 years ago

like jack says, worst city commission ever

Biker 5 years ago

With all respect, Mr. Fritzell, is a businessman and he would not agree to this unless it is benefitting him. We need full transparency and an open bidding process so that the actual costs are known and to ensure the taxpayers are not paying too much.

Why hasn't this happened?

If this doesn't happen, I oppose the use of any public tax funds to back this project. If it does happen and the public agrees the city's obligation are inline with the actual costs, and Mr. Fritzell has a competitive bid, I would support it.

LeBo 5 years ago

Turn the riverfront mall into the police headquarters!

LeBo 5 years ago

Also, This is nice, however, to much questionable financing, A sales tax. A private non-profit, KUAC, LMH, and the City of Lawrence, and Mr. Fritzel all in bed together. I hope it is a California-King-Size. KU want an olympic village? A Gridiron Club? Now a multi-purpose rec center. I am for the project, however, I am against using public money for private purpose (new TIF district for the hotel).

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

“This will name Lawrence as one of the top amateur recreation communities in the U.S.,” said Mayor Bob Schumm. This is wild speculation.

What exactly are the long term benefits? Sports complex projects have long history of being on the taxpayer long list of responsibilities forever..... from what I read. They never go away.

In this country right now, we are spending $2 billion a year subsidizing the big four sports: baseball, basketball, football and hockey. It accounts for all of the profits of that industry and more. Now, there may be individual teams that make money, but the industry as a whole is not profitable. And that’s astonishing because the big four leagues are exempt from the laws of competition. By the way, irony is not dead, because here are people who are in the business of competition on the field who are exempted by law from the rules of economic competition.

David Cay Johnston

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