LAWRENCE (AP) — University of Kansas athletic officials would like nothing better to enhance Memorial Stadium where the Jayhawks play football, but they also say they realize what they have now isn’t that bad.
The stadium, located on the northern edge of the Lawrence campus, was built in 1921 and has seen its share of renovations in recent years, including improved concourses, restrooms and suites on the west side and a new office for the football coaches overlooking the field.
Head coach Charlie Weis tells the Lawrence Journal-World that the view impresses him and all who visit his office.
“I mean, sure, would you like to have suites on the other side and take the track out and sink the field a little bit more and have the stands closer to the field? Sure. Great,” Weis said. “That would be wonderful. But I have no complaints with this place.”
Weis will coach his first game at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 1 when his Jayhawks open the season against South Dakota State. He gives his view from the southwest corner of the stadium in the Anderson Family Strength and Conditioning Center good reviews.
“People love this view,” Weis said. “They love what the stadium looks like from this office. There isn’t one person who’s come in here who hasn’t said, ‘That’s awesome.’ I’m talking recruits, their parents, everyone. So when everyone else is complaining about the place, everyone that walks in here says, ‘God, what a view. What a place.’”
Athletic director Sheahon Zenger and his staff have pushed plans for renovations to the stadium and all sporting venues to the back burner as Kansas has dealt with coaching changes and conference realignment in the past 18 months. He said the football stadium hasn’t been forgotten.
“We will do something very special with Memorial Stadium,” Zenger said. “But we want to make sure we honor what we have, and we want to make sure we do it right, because we only get one chance.”
Options that have been discussed for the track program include putting the facility elsewhere as part of a new community recreation complex currently under consideration for the northwest area of Lawrence.
He said any changes to relocate the track program, which has hosted the KU Relays for decades, and revamp the stadium won’t be done in a manner to damage the stadium’s legacy. Beyond football, thousands of graduates make their way down Campanille Hill each spring during commencement ceremonies in the stadium.
“Our history is what makes us different at the University of Kansas,” Zenger said. “Whether it be our traditions or what we’ve done competitively, and whether it be in basketball, track and field or football, we have a rich, rich legacy at the University of Kansas. And we want to be very careful as we plan for the future that we always move forward without damaging that legacy.
“We have a historic stadium, and anything we do to that football stadium is going to honor what I think is one of the greatest locations in the nation for a football stadium. We have one of the true stadiums left in the Midwest.”