Editorial: Stadium success

Let’s hope the expansion of KU’s stadium goes smoothly and contributes to what should be the university’s top priority: academics.

October 6, 2013


Recent news stories tell of planning for the renovation and expansion of Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium, the seventh oldest collegiate stadium in the country.

This announcement was not unexpected as KU athletics officials have made it known for several years they want to take the running track out of the stadium, lower the field and thereby be able to add additional seats to bring spectators closer to the field, add suites along the east side of the stadium, probably make major changes to the “bowl” or north end of the stadium and upgrade numerous facilities and services.

Not long ago KU Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger said the stadium and the track was an embarrassment for KU fans and alumni because of KU’s stadium, with its inside track, being one of the few such stadiums remaining among Division I NCAA schools.

Added to this is the fact that Kansas State University officials and athletic department officials kicked off the current football season with a new and expanded stadium facility, and in college sports “keeping up with the Joneses” is the name of the game.

The KU stadium effort is going to be expensive and the timing of any expansion/renovation will depend to a great degree on how the Jayhawks perform in the remaining games on this year’s schedule. It’s far easier to generate interest and private fiscal support with a winning program than one that has haunted Memorial Stadium for so many years.

It’s believed the KU stadium project will cost $70 to $150 million and winning seasons would make a world of difference in money-raising efforts. Hopefully, this project will go more smoothly than the convoluted and questionable Rock Chalk Park project in which the KU athletics department played a significant role.

Any debate relative to the role, priority and/or importance of intercollegiate sports at a state-aided school such as KU should be answered fairly clearly when looking at the millions of dollars spent in recent years at KU to improve and/or add sports facilities. What if similar dollars were spent on further elevating those academic programs at KU that are rated first or second in the country?

The constant challenge is to make sure there is a proper balance between the academic and athletic sides of the university with academics always, always the top priority.


Kent Kossoy 4 years, 5 months ago

While I am one of many who would like the football team to improve beyond the cellar, ultimately the goal should be academics. But as I have followed KU since 1976, I feel that I can easily say the school's priority has been athletics and money raising; on par with most of the other academic institutions in our country. So stop blowing smoke and call a spade a spade. Obviously KU has not been very successful in this process at least in regards to football!!

repaste 4 years, 5 months ago

75-100 million. For a football stadium remodel. We spent how much a few years ago, "upgrading",? How many tickets are currently sold, vs given away? How does this benefit academics?

grimpeur 4 years, 5 months ago

KU's stadium expansion will, according to plans already released, require relocation and reconstruction of 11th/Fambrough, improvements to Mississippi, and upgrades to sanitiary sewer and runoff management systems, ALL of which must be paid by KU.

So before KU even thinks about suggesting (again) that the city pay for these improvements, the answer is still, "No." This is all on KU's dime, and this theme should echo through the upcoming LJW stories, and repeated during KU's future discussions and announcements.

If KU needs improvements, then KU pays for them 110%.

Nikonman 4 years, 5 months ago

I'm not in position to go measure the dimensions of the field, track and angel of the seating, but it would seem to me that an enormous amount of dirt would have to be removed to "lower" the field in order to put seating where the track is now. The field would probably be below the existing storm drainage system, requiring constant pumping and a system to prevent backflow. The whole project would end up costing a lot more than expected.

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