The Jayhawks fell to the Wildcats Saturday in KU’s last game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in its current form.
The game was the last in the stadium that fans have nicknamed “The Booth” in its current form. The stadium and surrounding areas will undergo a massive renovation project that will start in December and span the next couple of years.
Fans had high hopes in the first half, and junior running back Devin Neal, a Lawrence High alum, scored three touchdowns. But the Jayhawks couldn’t hold on in the second half and fell 31-27.
At 7-4 overall with one more game to go in coach Lance Leipold’s third year at the helm, it’s still the team’s first winning record since 2008.
The Sunflower Showdown rivalry between Kansas and Kansas State is one of the longest running rivalries in college sports, dating back to 1902. Kansas leads the series 65-51-5, but the Wildcats have won the last 15 matchups.
The stadium has been the home of the Jayhawks football team for a century. It was originally dedicated on Nov. 11, 1922, to honor 127 men and two women from the university who died in World War I. It was renamed in 2018 after a $50 million donation from alum David Booth.
The stadium’s history traces back to 1892, when the university acquired land for a playing field, and subsequent expansions and renovations have brought the seating capacity to more than 50,000. Notable developments include a 1997 renovation and the 2008 addition of the Anderson Family Football Complex. In 2014, the stadium track was replaced with turf after the opening of Rock Chalk Park in west Lawrence.
But the stadium has lagged behind the facilities of other schools, prompting Kansas Athletics to undertake a massive renovation project dubbed “The Gateway District.”
The full project will almost entirely revamp the stadium, with improved seating across the stadium, a bigger video board and improved food and premium seating options.
The project isn’t just for the stadium, though. It includes a new conference center attached to the stadium’s north bowl and other opportunities for retail and entertainment space around the 11th and Mississippi Street intersection where the stadium sits.
The first phase of the project is already underway. KU rolled out brand new locker rooms and training facilities at the Anderson Family Football Complex this year, and work on the stadium is slated to begin in December.
The first phase of the stadium construction, which includes the southwest, west and north sides of the stadium, is planned to be completed by the 2025 football season. Kansas will still play home games at the stadium next season, but capacity will be reduced.
The project was initially set to cost $335 million, but the price tag jumped to $448 million last week. KU has consistently said that private donations will be the primary source of funding for the renovations, and no tuition or state general fund money will be used.
Saturday’s sold-out matchup was the 121st meeting between KU and K-State, making it the longest in program history for Kansas, surpassing the Jayhawks’ rivalry with Missouri, which played 120 games ending in 2011 when Missouri moved to the Southeastern Conference.
Despite a flurry of conference realignment across the country leading to an expanding Big 12 Conference, the Sunflower Showdown was named one of the conference’s four protected rivalries, meaning that Kansas and Kansas State will continue to face off every year.
The Jayhawks next week travel to Cincinnati, Ohio to face the University of Cincinnati Bearcats (3-8). This is the Bearcats’ first season in the Big 12.
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Post updated to add more photos at 10:53 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18
Cuyler Dunn (he/him), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, is a student at the University of Kansas School of Journalism. He is a graduate of Lawrence High School where he was the editor-in-chief of the school’s newspaper, The Budget, and was named the 2022 Kansas High School Journalist of the Year. Read more of his work for the Times here.