© 2022 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

KU Jayhawks will get a newly renovated football stadium, to the tune of $350 million

Kansas Renovations Football
Orlin Wagner
In this March 2010 file photo, a student walks past Memorial Stadium at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The university first revealed a $350 million plan to overhaul its football stadium and improve other facilities, during a 2017 dinner for some of its most influential donors.

Athletic Director Travis Goff said the project will have a transformative effect on the aging Memorial Stadium, football facilities and the surrounding area.

Ahead of the University of Kansas’ biggest football matchup since the 2007 Orange Bowl season, KU Athletics Director Travis Goff announced on Friday major upgrades to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

“It truly has a chance, in terms of multi-use, economic impact, to drive change for Lawrence and, we think, for the region and the state,” Goff told media gathered near the stadium’s south scoreboard.

Construction is set to begin in 2023. The cost of the project, which will include renovations to the Anderson Family Football Complex, is estimated at $350 million.

Funding will come from private donations, local and state economic development funds, and sales from premier seating at Memorial Stadium, which was built in 1921.

Goff said planning for the project has been underway for months, and the timing is right.

“It’s a place with an incredible foundation (and) so many amazing people at the university that’s committed to athletics,” said Goff. “I think we just needed some things to come together.”

Greg Echlin
KCUR 89.3
University of Kansas Athletics Director Travis Goff spoke with reporters on Friday outside David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium about planned upgrades at the site.

The resurgence of Kansas football comes as college sports programs continue to emerge from two years of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The Jayhawks enter the weekend with a 5-0 record and a No. 19 ranking in the weekly Associated Press poll.

The cast and crew of ESPN’s College Gameday are in Lawrence for the team’s Saturday matchup against No. 17 Texas Christian University, which has a record of 4-0. It’s the first time the national pregame show has broadcast from the KU campus.

Goff said the project will also create a new “gateway” area to the campus just outside the north end of the Memorial Stadium, near the corner of 11th and Mississippi streets. Plans include a mixture of retail and entertainment venues.

According to a press release, KU has chosen HNTB, a global multipurpose entertainment venue design firm, as the lead architect, in partnership with the Lawrence firm Multistudio. KU has also retained Nations Group, a national owner’s representative firm specializing in university athletics venues and mixed-use facilities. The firms will help KU develop more specific plans, timelines and cost estimates in the weeks ahead, the release said.

Goff said the success of the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team was also critical. That team’s 2022 NCAA tournament championship turned out to be a harbinger for change.

“You’ve got to give credit to a basketball program that brought us that championship. That really, I think, had a big hand in building our momentum forward,” Goff said.

Basketball has historically put KU Athletics on the map, but Goff pointed out that football generates a majority of the department’s revenue.

“Football is the driving force, frankly, of not just intercollegiate athletics, but, in so many ways, the health and vibrancy of higher education,” he said.

Goff said upgrades to Allen Fieldhouse, where the men’s and women’s basketball teams play, will be announced at a later date.

Sports have an economic and social impact on our community and, as a sports reporter, I go beyond the scores and statistics. I also bring the human element to the sports figures who have a hand in shaping the future of not only their respective teams but our town. Reach me at gregechlin@aol.com.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.