Kansas unveils plans for new $31M football complex

LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Kansas unveiled plans Sunday for a new $31 million football complex designed to bring its program up to par with most other Big 12 schools.

The Jayhawks' football team has shared office and training facilities with other sports, an arrangement that's become more cramped as Title IX requirements added women's sports and athletes.

The aging facilities were also no help in recruiting against schools such as Texas and Nebraska, which have finer facilities to show off to prospects.

"This has been overdue for a long time," athletic director Lew Perkins said at a news conference. "We've had some wonderful people who came up and wanted to be a part of this project."

Plans call for new offices and academic areas, a weight room, locker rooms, meeting rooms and hydrotherapy rooms. Practice fields are also in the works, which would relieve players of having to ride a bus each day from where they dress to where they practice. HNTB Architecture of Kansas City, Mo., will be the main architect.

Funding for the project, which is slated to be completed by the summer of 2008, was secured from private donations. More than half came from the Tom Kivisto and Dana Anderson families, who sat in the front row of the auditorium where the news conference was held.

"It's a great day for the university, it's a great day for our football program and for our student-athletes," Perkins said. "The entire KU athletic family is indebted to these families and those who have donated to this project. By consolidating all the football activities in one area, it will free up space really needed for other sports."

Exactly where the facility will be built is undecided. A likely area is immediately south of the stadium. But some people are worried that that would obstruct "Campanile Hill," where graduation ceremonies are held each year in a tradition which has become beloved to generations of students.

Chancellor Robert Hemenway has promised not to let that happen.

"I've told people the only way we would impair the view coming from the Campanile into the stadium is if there's a gravestone that says Bob Hemenway on it," he said. "It's going to be a great facility for the university."

Coach Mark Mangino addressed his opening remarks directly to the Anderson and Kivisto families.

"Tom, Julie, Dana and Sue, thank you so very much for investing in our football program," he told them.

"I don't take anything for granted. You are successful people. You work hard for your money. To make that investment in our football program, on behalf of all of all our coaches and players, I want to thank you very, very much. You're giving us a chance to take our football program to the next level."