Renovation work at KU football stadium making it ‘very possible’ Jayhawks will play at Arrowhead

photo by: University of Kansas/HNTB

This rendering shows the most recent design for a renovated David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. The rendering also shows some possibilities for ancillary development on the east side of the stadium, although KU is still awaiting proposals from developers on that portion of the project.

It is looking more likely that at least some of the University of Kansas’ home football games next season will be played in Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said Wednesday that a nearly $500 million project to renovate David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium will make it difficult to play all of the home games at the campus stadium.

“There is a huge feasibility question,” Girod said. “We know even in construction meetings this morning our timeline is getting tighter by the day. That consideration has not gotten better. This weather has not helped. We know we are running really, really tight.”

Girod last month confirmed to the Journal-World that KU was considering playing some of its home football games at Arrowhead Stadium — home to the Kansas City Chiefs — in order to keep the stadium renovation project on schedule. But at that time, Girod said no deal had been reached with the Chiefs, and KU had made no decision that it actually wanted to remove the games from the campus.

On Wednesday, Girod said a final agreement still hadn’t yet been reached with Arrowhead Stadium officials, but the chancellor said that mainly was because KU had not yet been given the dates of its conference home games by the Big 12 Conference.

“We know who we are playing at home and who we are playing away, but we don’t know dates,” Girod said.

KU needs those dates before it could reach specific agreements with Arrowhead officials. Girod said he envisions a scenario where KU will play some of its home football games at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, while playing others at Arrowhead.

“I think that is very possible,” Girod said during a brief interview. “I think it is unlikely that (Arrowhead) would be able to accommodate every date we have.”

Girod did not offer any potential breakdown on how many games may be in Lawrence versus Kansas City, but he said pressures against using the campus stadium were building on two fronts.

One is that KU has said completing the stadium renovation by August 2025 is critical. However, construction crews say that is a very tight timeline, and the recent spate of bad weather is making timing even more difficult. Last month, Girod said every home game that is played at the campus stadium adds about one week to the construction project.

The second complicating factor is the new estimate for how many fans actually could fit into an under-renovation David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. The entire west side and north end of the stadium would be unavailable for seating.

“I’m hearing 19,000 to 20,000, and that would be super, super tight,” Girod said. “When you think about band, students and season ticket holders, that is a tight number.”

Girod said KU would have to come up with plans on how to allocate those tickets among the various groups, but said that work hadn’t yet been completed. KU’s football team is coming off a nine-win season that included a bowl victory and a Top 25 ranking to end the year. That has created expectations for large crowds in 2024.

“You hate to lose momentum, but nonetheless there is no easy way through it,” Girod said.

But moving games to Arrowhead Stadium — about an hour’s drive from Lawrence — also will come with complications. There are issues of parking — the Chiefs charge $50 for gameday parking — and there also are questions of how students who may not have a vehicle would get to the games.

Girod said KU is considering using a bus system to transport not only students but also some nonstudent fans. Girod said there is the possibility of KU working with Lawrence businesses to create package opportunities that include a bus pass. For instance, fans might tailgate at a Lawrence restaurant and then catch a bus to the game.

Girod said the unusual circumstances of the season also may end up helping KU create some new traditions that may endure once the stadium project is complete in 2025. He said as KU works to create some new events to generate excitement in Lawrence, it will do so with an eye about how those events could continue long-term.

“Historically we have just kind of waited for people to show up and see what they do,” Girod said. “Maybe we can put some structure around it.”

Girod said a decision on where games will be played next season will be made soon. He said the Big 12 schedule should be released this week. Once that decision is made, KU will finalize plans quickly. He said KU needs to have season ticket packages sent out to fans by the end of this month. Normally, they already would be sent out, but KU has opted to wait until the location issue is decided.


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