KU alumni construct mini Allen Fieldhouse for their chickens, in painstaking detail

photo by: Contributed photo/courtesy of Jarrod Williams

University of Kansas alumni Jarrod Williams and Kate Neely Williams recently completed construction on this miniature replica of Allen Fieldhouse, KU's iconic basketball arena, to house their 13 chickens. The couple, who reside in Greenville, N.C., call their creation "Alhen Fieldhouse."

What hatched as a rather bird-brained plan has become something of a slam-dunk for a pair of University of Kansas fans.

KU alumni Jarrod Williams and Kate Neely Williams have a lot to be proud of. Their efforts to construct a miniature replica of Allen Fieldhouse — for their chickens — have attracted admirers from all over Jayhawk Nation this summer, with multiple news outlets writing up stories on the cleverly nicknamed Alhen Fieldhouse.

“Really, why wouldn’t you make a fieldhouse for your chickens?” asks Kate, who met her husband when the two were studying music — and performing in the KU basketball band — in the early 1990s.

Jarrod, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at KU, says construction on the project wasn’t all that difficult. It was the painstaking process of handpainting the banners — 15 for KU’s Final Four appearances and 11 for various conference championships — and the scoreboard that really made the project a labor of love.

photo by: Contributed photo/courtesy of Jarrod Williams

The most time-consuming part of the project, Jarrod Williams says, was handpainting the fieldhouse’s scoreboard and the banners representing KU’s Final Four appearances, conference wins and players’ retired jersey numbers.

The 14-by-10-foot structure, complete with red roof and exterior “Alhen Fieldhouse” signage, is home to 13 hens. The Williamses, who live in Greenville, N.C., even named five of their chickens after former KU basketball players, with a few tweaks: Devonte’ Greyhen, Chick Collison, Scott Pullet, Bawk Vaughn and Greg Roostertag.

“Jarrod wanted to install basketball goals, but I talked him out of it,” Kate says.

photo by: Contributed photo/courtesy of Jarrod Williams

The Williamses also replicated Allen Fieldhouse’s famous “Pay heed” banner, changing it to “Pay feed” at the suggestion of their teenage daughter.

The couple also re-created Allen Fieldhouse’s famous “Pay heed” banner, changing it to “Pay feed” at the suggestion of their 14-year-old daughter. Their son, at age 11, isn’t “as much of a Jayhawk fan,” Kate says, “but he’s coming around.”

Their neighbors — mostly Duke, UNC and North Carolina State fans — may be, too. At the very least, they seem to get a kick out of the miniature fieldhouse, says Jarrod, a teaching professor of tuba at East Carolina University.

“These people are putting up flags, and I’m putting up a henhouse,” he says of his neighborhood’s college basketball fandom. “It’s all good-natured.”

For his next project, Jarrod says he’d like to construct a tiny Fraser Hall next to the family’s pond. The kids want ducks, and they’ll need a home, too, he says.

“And of course it’s going to have a game day flag,” Kate says. “The crazy will continue with the Fraser Hall for the ducks.”

Jarrod agrees. After ducks, he’d like to focus next on building a house for the bats attracted to his backyard pond. No word yet on which KU landmark will provide the inspiration for that project.

In the meantime, Jarrod and Kate are relishing “the crazy.”

“Between chickens, ducks and bats, I think we’ll pretty much have it covered,” Jarrod says.


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