The future home of James Naismith’s original “Rules of Basket Ball” on the Kansas University campus has a name, donations covering more than half its cost and an expected time for construction to begin: later this year.
The KU Endowment Association on Wednesday announced the chief donors for the new student center that will house the rules: Paul and Katherine DeBruce, two 1973 KU graduates who live in Mission Hills. The new building, which will connect to the northeast corner of Allen Fieldhouse, will be named the DeBruce Center.
The DeBruces asked for the amount of their gift to remain private, but it plus some other contributions collected so far have amounted to “well in excess of 50 percent” of the center’s $18 million cost, Endowment Assocation president Dale Seuferling said.
“It’s a major or leadership gift that funds a significant portion of the project, that allows us to be within reach,” Seuferling said Wednesday afternoon.
Plans are for the Endowment to construct the building entirely with private funds, then hand over ownership to KU after it’s complete.
Paul DeBruce founded DeBruce Grain of Kansas City, Mo., and Katherine DeBruce worked for the Kansas City Star and in several capacities at Kansas City Public Television.
"This entire project is made possible through the generosity of KU's friends and supporters. Thanks to Paul and Katherine, the DeBruce Center will be an outstanding place for the KU community to gather and will provide the university with a space to welcome visitors and fans," KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a release.
Seuferling said the goal is to start construction later this year, though he declined to predict when the center might open.
Plans are beginning to come into focus, though. The center will have three floors and 31,000 square feet, the Endowment announced.
The building’s centerpiece, Naismith’s original basketball rules, will likely be located on its second floor, where the building will connect to the second-floor concourse of Allen Fieldhouse, Seuferling said. Surrounding the rules, and lining the walls of the walkway into the Fieldhouse, will be other exhibit materials celebrating the history and tradition of KU basketball, he said.
“The rules will serve as a prominent beginning for the exhibit space, and obviously a big tourist attraction,” Seuferling said.
The exhibits in the Booth Hall of Athletics at the Fieldhouse’s east entrance will expand up some stairs into the second-floor concourse, he said, where they will connect with the DeBruce Center’s walkway.
Planners also envision a small theater that will show videos on KU basketball history, as well as a retail space for KU memorabilia and clothing. Elsewhere in the center will be restaurant and dining space, a possible coffee shop area and meeting and event spaces.
It will provide a much-needed gathering space for students and faculty in an area of campus where a new School of Business building is on the way and School of Engineering facilities are expanding, Seuferling said. And, he said, it should also be popular with KU basketball fans before and after games, school groups, tourists and groups or KU departments planning special events or dinners.
“It will be a very popular place,” Seuferling said.
KU alumnus David Booth and his wife, Suzanne Deal Booth, of Austin, Texas, purchased Naismith’s original basketball rules at an auction in 2010 for $4.3 million and offered to display the document at the university.