Post last updated at 5:03 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 15:
Kansas Athletics on Tuesday released its most detailed renderings yet of plans to overhaul David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium and the surrounding area.
“The cumulative impact of a world-class football operations complex and one of the finest game day venues in the country catapults Kansas Football, and our entire athletics program, into this critical next chapter,” Director of Athletics Travis Goff said in a statement.
“We have a proud history, but this unprecedented investment makes a powerful statement about an even brighter future and provides far-reaching impact for our university community, fans and football program.”
Upgrades to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium were designed to provide “an unprecedented fan experience,” KU said Tuesday.
For starters, seating in the north bowl will be 4 feet higher off the ground to improve fan line of sight. There will also be chairback seating in the west and north seating areas, as well as a new video board that is more than twice as large and 60 feet closer to the field than the current video board.
KU is also planning on a 50% increase in area-per-seat and 50% more leg room throughout the stadium. There will also be approximately 2,300 club seats in three different club spaces, and suites will be 80 feet closer to the field.
In the concourse area, there will be four times as many food and beverage offerings, and at least 1 1/2 times the number of restrooms, the university said.
Goff said in a press conference Tuesday that improvements to WiFi in the stadium will be a key priority, but likely won’t be implemented until the 2025 season due to the ongoing construction.
Goff and KU Chancellor Douglas Girod said that parking really won’t be strongly impacted during the first phase of the gateway project because it’s mostly replacing the stadium that is already in place with a new stadium.
The two acknowledged that during the second phase of construction — after the 2025 season — that a significant portion of parking will likely be lost due to renovations. How exactly KU will handle that is still to be determined.
Construction on the first phase of the project — which includes additional renovations to and expanding the Anderson Family Football Complex, constructing new southwest, west and north sides of the football stadium, as well as a new conference center, will be completed in a phased approach.
Work will begin in December and will be completed by the beginning of the 2025 football season.
The Jayhawks will continue playing football at their home stadium during construction, though capacity will be reduced during the 2024 season.
Goff and Girod said exactly how much capacity will be reduced is still somewhat up in the air. However, literature KU handed out at the event suggested that the only way for folks to get season tickets for the 2024 season is to be a 2023 season ticket holder.
Further phases of the project will focus on the south and east portions of the stadium, as well as developing space for dining, retail, offices and lodging.
KU set an initial fundraising goal of $300 million for the football stadium renovations as well as improvements at Allen Fieldhouse. An information sheet passed out at Tuesday’s press conference said $165 million has already been secured toward that total — though “additional support will be needed in order to fulfill the full vision.”
The university reiterated Tuesday that private donor funds will primarily be used to fund the project, and no tuition dollars or state general funds will be used.
Gov. Laura Kelly spoke at Tuesday’s unveiling event and addressed the grant system that will provide KU with $50 million in funding for the project.
The grant funding was made possible by the Kansas Legislature in its allocation of federal COVID-19 relief dollars. These grant dollars were earmarked specifically for revitalization projects that create growth and jobs.
“In developing these University Economic Development Challenge grants, my aim was to leverage one of Kansas’ greatest resources — our university system — to spur new growth for decades to come. The KU Gateway District is a perfect example of that,” Kelly said. “The improvements announced today will not only help us attract and retain young people but will also make Kansas more attractive for businesses and generate millions of dollars that will make life better for Kansans across the state.”
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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.