Initial plans for KU football stadium renovation paid for with private funds; contracts won’t be disclosed

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After announcing plans for massive changes to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium and the surrounding Mississippi Street area, the University of Kansas has entered into contractual agreements with three vendors to begin the initial planning process — but the details won’t be available to the public.

When KU announced its plans on Oct. 7, it named HNTB, a Kansas City architecture and engineering firm; Multistudio, a Lawrence and Kansas City-based architecture and design firm; and Nations Group, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based stadium consultant as partners on the project.

We recently submitted a public records request to KU for the contracts with those vendors and were told there were no responsive documents. When we sought clarification, KU spokesperson Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said the university had no contractual agreements with the vendors because the deals were completed through KU Endowment.

“The contracts you reference have been paid for with private funds through KU Endowment, which is a legally separate entity and not subject to KORA,” Barcomb-Peterson said in an email. “… Endowment does not share such contracts.”

She said the current contracts are for initial “conceptual/consulting work” and that more deals would be worked out as the project moves along — with those likely being made public.

“Looking ahead, as the university looks to enter into contracts for design and construction components of the project, we likely will go through the standard state processes, and those contracts will all be made public,” she said.

KU will publish additional details, such as funding sources for the project, as they become available, Barcomb-Peterson said.

HTNB and Nations Group did not respond to requests for comment for this story. Multistudio provided us with a link to KU’s initial press release about the project and said to follow up with the university for more information. The agency did not respond to a follow-up email seeking further clarification.

Nations Group is the only vendor with information on its website linking it to the project — in a short press release dated Sept. 12, three weeks before KU announced its plans.

Kansas’ Memorial Stadium opened in 1921 and is one of the oldest stadiums in college football. When KU officials announced plans to overhaul the stadium and the Mississippi Street area, they said they envisioned the area as a new “gateway” to north campus.

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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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