More details are emerging about a proposed recreation facility in northwest Lawrence, with new plans calling for everything from an indoor ice rink to a 15,000-seat track and field stadium.
Lawrence Mayor Bob Schumm on Tuesday provided details of new concept plans that are being proposed by private developers seeking to partner with the city on a major recreation facility at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway.
“The economic development opportunities for this project are really huge,” Schumm told a crowd of about 40 who gathered Tuesday for the Downtown Lawrence Inc. annual meeting.
The building itself may be huge, too. Schumm said the latest plans, which he stressed are likely still to change, call for 300,000 square feet of indoor space plus several outdoor venues that could be used to accommodate Kansas University.
“What’s being discussed now is a village type of concept for sports,” Schumm said. “KU is very excited about the possibilities.”
Currently the concept plans call for a 15,000-seat outdoor track and field stadium, which could be used to host the Kansas Relays and other events. The project also includes a collegiate-level soccer field.
On the indoor facility, Schumm said it is still envisioned to have at least eight full-length basketball courts that could be used for volleyball and other indoor sports. But the latest version also includes an indoor ice rink that could be used for hockey and other skating.
But Schumm said the plans are still subject to change, and another source said the ice rink was the most speculative part of the current plans.
The concept plans already have changed several times. Previously, an indoor events arena was in a concept plan, but that component was not included in the latest plans presented to Schumm on Monday.
Schumm said he hopes to have firm plans presented to the City Commission within the next 60 to 90 days. That would be about the same time the commission would consider a rezoning request for the property.
Thus far, members of the private development group, which includes local businessmen Thomas Fritzel, Steve Schwada, Duane Schwada and executives of the Gene Fritzel Construction Co., have not publicly presented plans or detailed any proposed cost-sharing arrangements.
But Schumm said he still envisions the city will be able to cover its share of the project by using money from the previously approved countywide 1 percent sales tax.
Voters approved that sales tax in part to fund recreation projects. The city is paying off several bonds, which will free up about $13 million to $15 million worth of new funding for the city.