The University of Kansas plans to ask state higher education officials Wednesday to approve plans for a $26 million indoor football practice facility, a request reflecting a big increase in the projected cost since the announcement in September of a three-phase overhaul of Memorial Stadium.
Originally, KU marketed the practice center as a $15 million piece of a five-year, $315 million upgrade of football facilities in Lawrence. The $15 million estimate was still listed Monday on a KU website, but a university official said that information was in error. The correct figure for the practice building is $26 million and the football modernization package will cost $326 million, said Jim Marchiony, spokesman for KU’s athletic department.
“The number is $26 million,” Marchiony said. “The $15 million was some old figure that never got changed.”
During a meeting of the Kansas Board of Regents in Wichita, KU Chancellor Doug Girod is scheduled to outline justification for a 90,000-square-foot building to be located on the site of outdoor practice fields adjacent to Memorial Stadium. It would be big enough for a 100-yard turf field.
The Kansas Jayhawks, mired in a 1-9 season, typically share practice time with other KU sports programs in the multipurpose Anschutz Sports Pavilion built in 1984 near Allen Fieldhouse. Anschutz is 1 mile from Memorial Stadium and Anderson Family Football Complex, where the football team’s training and locker facilities are located. The new practice facility would form a triangle with the Anderson structure and the stadium, which opened in 1921.
Girod said a more competitive football program would benefit the entire university and solidify KU’s membership in the Big 12. KU officials said the new practice facility would have amenities comparable to schools in the Big 12, SEC, ACC, PAC 12 and Big 10, but lacking in Anschutz.
“Although adequate and innovative for its time as a multipurpose facility, it does not meet the individual needs of today’s Division I Power 5 football team,” said a memorandum prepared in advance of the Board of Regents’ meeting.
The document indicates financing for a $26 million practice facility would be drawn from donations and borrowing tied to financial pledges.
In September, KU said “Raise the Chant” would start with construction of the practice facility after the 2017 season. The second phase following the 2018 season would include $170 million to close the south section of Memorial Stadium and for improvements to the west side of the stadium. KU earmarked $130 million for work on the east side and to square off and enclose the north portion of the stadium.
KU graduate David Booth pledged $50 million for the Memorial Stadium renovations.
Meanwhile, the Board of Regents plans to consider adjustments to student housing and food service contract rates in the 2018-2019 academic year at KU, Kansas State University and the four other universities in the state system. The rates would range from $7,778 annually for a two-bed room at Pittsburg State University to $10,905 for comparable housing at Wichita State University. KU seeks a 2.9 percent increase to $10,350 annually.