Yesterday there was an article in the LJWorld that discussed an upcoming project that would place a "major" recreation center in Northwest Lawrence. Sounds interesting, but what does that mean to the University of Kansas? At this point it seems a little unclear but some of the quotes and hints dropped in the article would seem to indicate that this project could pave the way for Sheahon Zenger's desire to remove the track and renovate Memorial Stadium to better serve a football only purpose.
None of the plans is set in stone, but the private developers - which include Thomas Fritzel, Steve Schwada, Duane Schwada and members of the Gene Fritzel Construction Company - are intent on creating a destination-style venue.
(Mayor Bob) Schumm also confirmed that the current plans for the building check in at 300,000 square feet of indoor space, in addition to a 15,000-seat outdoor track and field stadium that would accommodate the Kansas Relays and other events.
The Kansas relays along with the lack of an outdoor track facility have long been pointed to as one hurdle for removing the track at Memorial. This seems to create a venue that will help clear that hurdle in the near future. At this point the University's involvement is unknown but the article does address the potential.
I get the sense that participation by Kansas University will go a long way in determining just how large the project will be. KU Athletics long has had a vision of creating a "village" for many of its Olympic sports programs.
The current plans would get the ball rolling on that idea. In addition to the 15,000-seat track and field venue, the plans include a new outdoor soccer venue as well.
The opportunity appears to be taking shape if Kansas wants to take advantage. Does having a facility removed from campus cause any heartburns within the athletic department? Does this address the Olympic Village plan in it's entirety? And at the end of the day do we care? Isn't it more important to take the opportunity regardless of any perceived challenges or flaws and leverage that to improve a revenue generating sport like football?