KU announces massive project to upgrade Memorial Stadium, build ‘new gateway’ to campus

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Ahead of its first ever appearance on ESPN’s College GameDay and a Top 25 matchup this weekend against the TCU Horned Frogs, Kansas Athletics on Friday announced its most significant plans in decades regarding the future of Kansas football.

In a video message narrated by renowned broadcaster and KU alumnus Kevin Harlan, the department announced plans to massively overhaul the area near 11th and Mississippi streets.

Plans include new facilities such as “conference and entertainment space, retail and other functions that drive regional economic growth and generate revenue for academic programming,” as well as making significant improvements to the 101-year old David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Work is slated to begin in 2023.

“This project is unmatched in its vision to benefit a broad range of KU constituents while signaling a new era for Kansas Football,” Travis Goff, director of athletics, said in a news release. “Once complete, this project will ensure our football program has the facilities it needs to compete at the highest level and provide the best-possible game day experience for student-athletes and fans. Moreover, we are thrilled this project goes beyond football to benefit the entire university and the regional economy.”

Friday’s announcement did not specify a timeline, dollar amount, or funding avenues for the project. The university has chosen Kansas City-based HNTB and Lawrence-based Multistudio as the lead architecture firms for the project, and retained the services of Nations Group, a firm specializing in university athletics venues and mixed-use facilities. The firms will help KU develop more specific plans, timelines and cost estimates in the weeks ahead, the release said.

“The intersection near 11th and Mississippi streets is a primary campus entrance for prospective students, alumni and guests who are touring KU and visiting David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium,” Chancellor Douglas Girod said in the announcement. “For these reasons, it’s the ideal location to develop a new gateway with multi-use facilities to better serve these audiences, generate revenue for academic programming, drive economic growth in the region, and reimagine our football facilities.”

The project will begin with renovations to Anderson Family Football Complex, as well as site preparation work related to storm water, sanitation, Wi-Fi availability and electrical system upgrades, in the first half of 2023. Upgrades to the in-game experience at Memorial Stadium are slated to include seating bowl design with improved sightlines that bring fans closer to the field; expanded concessions, restrooms and accessible seating locations; improved concourse circulation; and new premium amenities such as club seats, loge seats and ledge suites, the release said.

“This project will have a profound impact on the future of Kansas Football and the entire community,” football coach Lance Leipold said in the announcement. “It will specifically impact our current and future football players, who will now have a state-of-the-art facility to train in. With an up-to-date facility and a commitment to improve Anderson Family Football Complex, our day-to-day operation will be more efficient and effective. This is an exciting time for Kansas Football, and this certainly adds to it.”

ESPN’s College GameDay will kick off from the bottom of the hill near Memorial Stadium at 8 a.m. Saturday — though gates open much earlier, at 5:30 a.m. Kansas’ game against TCU kicks off at 11 a.m. and can be seen on Fox Sports 1.

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Conner Mitchell (he/him), reporter, can be reached at cmitchell (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-435-9264. If you have sensitive information to send Conner, please email connermitchell (at) protonmail (dot) com. Read more of his work for the Times here.

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