Archive for Tuesday, September 11, 2012

KU pulls out of deal for sports complex at NW corner of Sixth and SLT, proposes plans for larger complex on new site

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.

September 11, 2012, 11:11 p.m. Updated September 11, 2012, 11:42 p.m.


Kansas University has pulled out of a proposal to build a new sports complex on the northwest corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway, and has proposed its own larger sports complex near the northeast corner of the intersection.

KU officials also have asked the city to bring its proposed $24 million recreation center and youth fieldhouse to the site, and Lawrence Mayor Bob Schumm said Tuesday night the city is interested in doing so.

“We have stated all along that we want to continue a relationship with KU, and that is still true today,” Schumm said. “This new site has a lot more acreage involved, and we think we potentially could get more uses out of it for the city.”

The new site is more than 87 acres of ground north of the proposed Mercato retail development at the northeast corner of Sixth Street and the South Lawrence Trafficway. The Journal-World previously reported city officials were exploring a possible purchase of the property, which is just north of where George Williams Way currently dead-ends north of Sixth Street. But in a letter to city officials, KU Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger said Kansas University Endowment Association has agreed to purchase the property.

Zenger said in the letter that KU was motivated to move to the new site because it could accommodate not only a soccer field and track and field stadium, which were proposed at the previous location, but also a new softball complex. Zenger said the new site will allow the university to address all three issues, and make progress on satisfying Title IX requirements for the women’s soccer and softball programs.

Other details from the proposal, which was announced after the City Commission met for 45 minutes in executive session Tuesday night, include:

• The future of a proposed partnership with Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel to build the city recreation center and lease it back to the city on a 20-year lease-purchase agreement is uncertain. Schumm said the city was still trying to determine how the new location would affect that arrangement.

• The idea of adding more than 100 acres of new retail development on the northwest corner of the intersection is now clearly in question. Schumm said the city will have a hearing on the proposed retail zoning at its meeting next week. But Schumm said he was no longer interested in approving the retail zoning since it appears unlikely that a sports complex will be located on the site. A group led by Lawrence businessman Duane Schwada had proposed building retail development adjacent to the new sports complex. Schwada, however, does own retail-zoned land that is adjacent to the newly proposed site.

• Schumm said that with the additional acreage at the new site, the city and KU will explore the possibility of adding lighted tennis courts, a cross country jogging path and other amenities that could be used by Lawrence residents.

• Cost estimates to develop the new site are still being formulated, but the city believes infrastructure costs likely will be less because the site is on the east side of the South Lawrence Trafficway. The previous site required costly extension of water and sewer service across the SLT.

• Zenger said the new plan — especially with KU Endowment being the proposed owner of the property — would allow the university to take more of a leadership role in the development of the complex.

“Since the inception of the ‘West of the Bypass’ discussions, it has been noted publicly and privately that Kansas Athletics was not significantly invested in the project,” Zenger wrote. “This notion was not lost on us.”

City commissioners are scheduled to discuss the new proposal in more detail at its meeting next Tuesday evening.

In other city news, commissioners approved a request to get bids for a new citywide recycling service. Bids are due by late October, which will give city commissioners a better idea of how much a new citywide service would cost to operate.


kansasredlegs 5 years, 8 months ago

Mayor Shumm and Crew chasing their collective tails on this issue. The phrase, Cart before the Horse, comes to mind for some reason. Mayor Shumm said the Schwada - tax payer funded project for our local One Percenters was such a great deal for "us" that "we" couldn't afford not to pass it up.

Come on Mayor Shumm, don't hurt yourself gettin' up on your soapbox to tell "us" the taxpayer how this now a "really really really really really really I swear this time, gooder deal".

Chad: Unless this proposed land is already sitting there with City services, the $24 million project was only for the cost of the building and not the several million in public infrastructure which is required. Are there any details about infrastructure? I'm sure KU will want at a minimum a cost share approach or worse case that taxpayers again on the hook for the entire amount.

royalpain 5 years, 8 months ago

This new site is served by city sanitary sewer and water already, as well as George Williams Way. The street may need widened, though.

kansasredlegs 5 years, 8 months ago

Thanks for the information. Besides relocation and modifications, that would save roof top taxpayers millions for infrastructure costs. The cost savings for infrastructure and the Fritzel interest rate alone, make this project a serious contender. Now, if the Commish will put the cart behind the horse and provide accurate and reliable details about this location, then this proposed project might actually get the community behind it.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 8 months ago

You really want KU footing the bill for all of this? That means it will be their parking lots. Their parking lots mean permits will be required. Certainly not resident-friendly.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 8 months ago

Nothing on campus is a gift forever. Well-to-do alumni have donated money for buildings. the university still has to foot the bill to maintain those buildings. That comes from more alumni donations and tuition. So the taxpayers of Lawrence may not have to pay for it, but the students will. And it probably won't be free to use. Part of my tuition gives me access to the Ambler Rec Center on campus. It's not just free because I go to KU. The university will not just hand this over to city residents wrapped in a pretty bow.

COjayrocks 5 years, 8 months ago

My God, without the University there would be no Lawrence that we all know and love. The University is a business, it's not here to make people like you happy just because you live in the same city. That's why the city and the University are separate.

COjayrocks 5 years, 8 months ago

Stop with the entitled, holier-than-thou attitude. You are just like everyone else, stick out your hand and wait for someone to fill it.

LeBo 5 years, 8 months ago

Great. But the location is too far from campus! No one attends the events on campus, how is attendance going to improve.

kuguardgrl13 5 years, 8 months ago

And they're going to use not needing the track at Memorial Stadium as a reason to build sideline luxury seats that no one will want to pay to sit in.

John Hamm 5 years, 8 months ago

Without the track as MS they can lower the field and put in thousands of more seats closer to the field. The track, as venerable as it is, has been the main drawback in enlarging MS.

Tim Herndon 5 years, 8 months ago

None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm. - Henry David Thoreau

'Can't wait for the infrastructure improvements, the building construction, the busy laborers, the programs, the kids, the crowds, the vendors, everything. Bring it! Bring it soon!

classclown 5 years, 8 months ago


  • ... a cross country jogging path and other amenities that could be used by Lawrence residents. *

"other amenities" ... would that include undergrowth, suitable for lurking, near the jogging path?

September 11, 2012 at 11:48 p.m


You're such a romantic.

Bob Forer 5 years, 8 months ago

Looks like Zenger and KU saw the Lawrence City taxpayers as an easy mark and were not gracious enough to share the fleecing with the Fritzel family.

Fritzel: It's my mark, I suckered them first.

Zenger: Screw you, no it's my mark. We're bigger than you and we want it all for ourselves. Go find another sucker. This one is ours.

Robert Rauktis 5 years, 8 months ago

Was the building design found in the rubble of the Soviet bloc? Will they allow hitch-hiking or rides to strangers within a mile of the structure?

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Keep the taxpayers out of it! Make it all KU. KU Sports Inc has plenty of dough so they can jump in with the KU Endowment and carry on. Keep the taxpayers money out of the deal.

Western Lawrence doesn't need a special jogging track for the residents. Most all of west Lawrence has newer wider sidewalks and a lot of miles of neighborhood walking/biking path areas. NW and Western Lawrence is not hurting for this kind of space. They also have a lot of designated bike lanes built into their new streets if my memory serves me well.

Pull back city hall be smart.

Did the pros outweigh the cons of the new proposed sports complex? NO –

$30 million or more tax dollars from the taxpayers kind of eliminates the gift concept.

Therefore I think taxpayers should come out strong for voter approval no matter what city hall comes up with next.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps it is time in to revisit this 1994 sales tax and ask voters how elected officials should be spending this money. Put this question on the upcoming ballot. Offer up practical choices.

This 1994 sales tax is not necessarily dedicated to the park department in spite of the fact a large chunk has been funding park department projects.

Perhaps taxpayers would be interested in repealing all or part this sales tax as a means to reducing taxes for a change?

Think of it this way. 10% of this sales tax could be dedicated to rehab the library and provide operations expenses thereafter. Thereby eliminating the new library tax increase = another opportunity to reduce taxes. Let the voter decide.

Thinking another way 10% of this sales tax could build this community a nice Vo-Tech center. This would be a huge plus for the community that would definitely pay back. Education always pays back!

Our taxpayer owned elementary schools are in dire need of rehabilitation. This sales tax could be directed at reducing city level property taxes thereby offsetting any tax increase USD 497 may need to rehab OUR elementary schools that somehow have been neglected. Good for future economic growth.

Certainly last but not least let’s build an actual NW neighborhood rec center similar to existing rec centers with two full size courts and a walking track on the 37 acres the city now owns next to Free State High School. It does not need $6 million or more $$$$ in new infrastructure.

In addition to the NW neighborhood rec center add a second full sized court at Holcomb and East Lawrence rec centers to help satisfy the alleged need for more courts. And a new thought could be to convert PART of the failed retail experiment aka Tanger Mall into a work out center for North Lawrence taxpayers.

This concept provides adequate,equitable and conveniently located space throughout the Lawrence tax dollar area. This is certainly more consistent with the promised use of the1994 voter approved sales tax money.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 months ago

The Fritzells,Coach Self and the Schwada team should feel free to donate money to a neighborhood center project...... then walk away and leave the details to the neighborhood taxpayers. Thank you for that consideration.

somebodynew 5 years, 8 months ago

Merrill - ".....leave the details to the neighborhood taxpayers."

One problem with that. the 'neighborhood' in Lawrence couldn't decide how to build a square box without lawsuits, hearings, figuring out if it was Historic, and does it fit in my backyard. Plus it would take 20 years.

It is not surprising on this forum, but here we have a plan that offers options to what everyone was saying was was a bad deal, and absolutely no comments other that negative. I am not saying this is the do-all, end-all plan and we should jump at it, but ON THE SURFACE appears to be better than the one proposed. As the other one, more information is needed before decisions are made, but give it a chance.

At least this one isn't being rushed through just so Schwada can circumvent zoning and planning processes, and for that alone I like it.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 8 months ago

I thought it was the fact that KU pulled out that caught the commissioners' attention finally.

But, yup, this was a terrible idea from the get-go because it's real purpose was to help the developers big time.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

Now, if it was a deal for free infrastructure for Dougie, you'd be 100% behind it.

Chad Lawhorn 5 years, 8 months ago

Members of the Stultz family, which are local residential developers. I'll get a specific name of the entity soon. I meant to pass it along last night, but didn't happen due to time constraints and such. Thanks.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

This seems, on first glance, to be a better deal for the city.

I look forward to more details about it, as they develop, before deciding whether it really is or not.

neverwrong 5 years, 8 months ago

Can we at least put a red roof on it now and not make it look so much like Wescoe?!

Janis Pool 5 years, 8 months ago

I read just the title and saw the word LARGER. And with that, I'm done. No thanks no thanks!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

My read on this is that there is absolutely no rush for the city to do anything. KU is doing this to meet its own needs.

So for now, why not build a rec center along the lines of the Holcomb or E. Lawrence Rec centers, with possible expansion later?

And if KU Athletic wants the city to be the nominal title holder to a mega-gym so that AAU BB tournaments can be held there on their behalf, let the KU Athletic Corp. pick up most of the tab.

JackMcKee 5 years, 8 months ago

The welfare queen NIMBY hath spoken. Pay heed all who want to build anything that doesn't offer free rides or free internet.

JackMcKee 5 years, 8 months ago

I can't wait to ride the bus to visit your artisanal cheese superstore inside the Cromwell Memorial Parking Garage. Good thing people have jobs outside Lawrence so they have money to actually buy your smoked artisanal blue cheese crumbles.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

Come on down!! (But be aware that you'll have to bring your own bib.)

JackMcKee 5 years, 8 months ago

Well that's about how much patience KU has for Lawrence NIMBYs. Will KU have to sue Lawrence over this like Wal Mart? Like I said before, those idiots better not whine when KU moves more big games to Kansas City. Morons.

Just in case you missed it, KU just told Lawrence and its "leaders" that they're too much trouble to be a worthy partner. Some of you seem to think that's a positive development. Bob Schumm, nobody outside the confines of 6 blocks around Mass. cares what you think. You can't even put a decent set of ribs on a plate. Please slink back into your hole.

Lawrence is going to grow, but rest assured aging hippies, you'll still be able to set up your artisanal cheese shops and sell your hand blown one hitters while residing in your "charmer" on Connecticut Street.

Dale Stringer 5 years, 8 months ago

I guess I should have paid more attention to this. I always thought it was going to be placed on the northeast corner. The NW corner is stupid since since it is across K-10 from the city. With it on the NE corner, you could have better access. Not only could you build a nice 4-lane street from 6th street, you could continue Wakarusa all the way west to E902 Rd, K-10 (w/ a new interchange) and N1663 Rd. It would also keep it on the side of K-10 that already has the hike/bike trail.

While I'm at it: FSHS - put in a centralized parking lot west of the football field and north of baseball/softball fields. Give it access to Wakarusa at a couple places. Having to park on the east side of the school and walking around it sucks.

lawrencereporter 5 years, 8 months ago

Looks like major traffic issues for Langston Hughes Elementary School and the neighborhood that surrounds it.

Getaroom 5 years, 8 months ago

At least now parking for this monster complex will be adequate, for pay of course if owned by KU Athletics/KU Endowment. Think a parking garage(for pay) is in order to save on the foot print of this behemoth?

Understand, this idea was never NOT going to come to fruition once initiated by way of Self's million dollar seed money as the vehicle, it was only a mater of where and when. Building the structure will go out for bid as always, even if the fix is already in for who the winner will be. It's not like this property was not always an option, it didn't just come into view out of no where, they have been working on it it all along in the background and out of public view. Remember, the other piece of land was a "gift" with huge benefits for the "gifters".

Accept that this is going to happen no matter what else comes and goes and that KU Athletics Corporation always gets what it thinks it wants.
So now the Fritzell's are out and the Stultz's are in. Should be fun...... Maybe they can put Varsity House back up out there, plenty of room ...Let the battles begin...

blindrabbit 5 years, 8 months ago

Appears that KU and Zenger woke/wised up to the fact that they do not want to get beholding to the City. Don't blame them, the current City Commission has not met a developer it does not covet and benefit.. Float any idea, no matter how bizaare or financially unreasonable in front of the Commission and if it has a friiendly developer associated, the Commission will see a "pot of gold". I would be real leery of the Stultz Family however as they have a somewhat jaded history as well, including the slash and burn tactics they employed last year on two large parcels to avoid environmental issues. The neighboring property owners were aghast; kinda reminds one of the midnight plowing of the Elkin Prairie back in 1990. Incidentally, the Elkin Prairie is part of the proposed KU/Stultz land buy/sell.

Still don't understand why KU wants to build that far from campus; would seem to be better accomplished by using the property to the South of Allen Fieldhouse and the already existing parking facilities. If not there, what about KU properties to the West of Iowa Street, or maybe this has been set-aside for future campus/research development.

lawrencereporter 5 years, 8 months ago

Thomas Fritzel walks and talks like he owns KU Athletics, maybe he does, time will tell. Add to it Stultz. Look out folks.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 8 months ago

Does this mean we get another architect? Gould Evans blight on this community should be ended once and for all. Can anyone name a Gould Evans build that is attractive in this community? Honestly, this rendering looks like the model was the K-Mart distribution center. Hideous!

blindrabbit 5 years, 8 months ago

oxymoron: Agree about Gould Evans> Since KU supposedly has one of the best Architectural Schools in the US let the students come up with design competition; I'm sure it would be more workable than GE.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 8 months ago

Blindrabbit, love your belief in the future, but I think this design might be too ambitious for KU students. However, HOK is just up the street with several KU grads in senior positions. Gould Evans' buildings are like nails on a blackboard. We deserve more for our bucks.

classclown 5 years, 8 months ago


Without the track as MS they can lower the field and put in thousands of more seats closer to the field. The track, as venerable as it is, has been the main drawback in enlarging MS.

September 12, 2012 at 10:07 a.m


It doesn't matter how many seats a stadium has if they're always empty. (sort of like a bus - yuk yuk)

Seriously, what is the point of having more seats? KU will never run with the big dogs and wanting to take out the track and add more seating cause that's how the others have it makes KU out to be little brotherish.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe KU should build athletic field on campus west. That way it would be convenient to campus and served by existing transit service.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 8 months ago

The city needs a new neighborhood Rec center, but that should be built as an addition to or adjacent to the indoor aquatic center by FSHS. That too is already served by existing transit.

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