Despite ongoing construction, KU is still set to hold graduation at football stadium

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With 11 days until thousands of Jayhawks will walk down the hill to celebrate completing their degrees, the KU football stadium shows it’s very much in the midst of a multimillion-dollar, multiyear remodel.

But “We are absolutely holding commencement at the stadium,” Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, a spokesperson for the university, said via email Tuesday.

“We know it will look different than past years — namely the guest seating on the east side of the stadium only — but our graduates will get the same KU commencement experience as previous years’ graduates,” she said.

The university is advising students to limit the number of guests attending at the stadium to six, but there should be enough space for everyone. Barcomb-Peterson said the seating on the stadium’s east side will be closer together than usual this year, but it will accommodate all guests.

Much of the stadium’s seating has been torn down for the first phase of the construction project. Typically, about 17,000 family members and guests attend graduation, Barcomb-Peterson said. The stadium’s capacity when it wasn’t under construction was 47,000; currently, there are 17,668 shoulder-to-shoulder bleacher seats available.

“Some guests may be more comfortable watching one of the streams outside of the stadium, so we want them — and the graduates inviting them — to also be aware of the alternatives,” she said.

The event will be livestreamed at the Kansas Union and at the Jayhawk Welcome Center this year, Barcomb-Peterson said. There will also be a screen on the hill for guests who don’t want to enter the stadium. The livestream will be accessible online.

KU announced in January that the football team will play all 2024-25 games in Kansas City, but the plan has consistently been to hold commencement at the stadium.

Guests will not need to wear hard hats, Barcomb-Peterson said. “Guests and graduates will not be in the active construction areas. The conditions where graduates and guests will be seated will much like any other outdoor commencement,” she said.

Other campus locations wouldn’t work for the ceremony, Barcomb-Peterson said.

“There is simply not enough seating in Allen Fieldhouse or any other campus location,” she said. “Moreover, we are committed to giving our graduates the traditional KU commencement experience on the Hill.”

She said setup such as placing of the dais and chairs on the field typically begins the Friday before the ceremony.

And commencement will take place rain or shine. Severe weather such as lightning could delay the event for a few hours, but the construction won’t affect plans to proceed with the ceremony in the stadium when it’s safe.

The university does not believe preparation for commencement will create additional costs for the stadium project, Barcomb-Peterson said.

Commencement is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 12.

KU’s website at includes an Attend page with details about parking and more an FAQ page with further details about the ceremony and logistics. If there are any weather delays, they’ll be announced on KU’s social media accounts and that website.

Here are a few key answers from the website:

• Restrooms? “A limited number of accessible restrooms will be available in the east concourse of David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, as well as accessible port-a-potties nearby. Additionally, Snow Hall, Strong Hall, and Bailey Hall will be open on the day of Commencement to give guests access to more nearby restrooms.”

• Accessibility concerns? “Memorial Stadium is a fully accessible facility with open limited-mobility and wheelchair seating that can be claimed by guests on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to ongoing construction at the stadium, accessible seating will be limited in the stands (sections 22, 24, and 26) and on the field, and only one elevator will be operational.” (The answer continues with additional details on the FAQ page.)

• Concessions? “No. However, the Kansas Memorial Union will be open, where you can find a convenience store, coffee shop, cafeteria, and bookstore, as well as accessible restrooms.”

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times
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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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