University begins construction on Rock Chalk Park

Construction on the University’s portion of Rock Chalk Park officially commenced with the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday.

The new facility will consist of a 1,500-seat softball stadium, a 2,500-seat soccer stadium, a 10,000-seat track and field complex and a 28,000-square-foot indoor training building. There will be parking for 700 cars and overflow space for 700 more. The project will cost the University $39 million dollars.

Brittany Thiesing/KANSAN  All the essential members of the Rock Chalk Park project officially break ground. The groundbreaking celebration was held at the project location at 6th St. and George Washington Way yesterday morning.

Brittany Thiesing/KANSAN
All the essential members of the Rock Chalk Park project officially break ground. The groundbreaking celebration was held at the project location at 6th St. and George Washington Way yesterday morning.

The complex is being constructed on the northwest corner of town, just east of K-10.

Jim Marchiony, Associate Athletics Director at the University, said the necessity of bringing the University’s facilities into compliance with Title IX requirements as one of the reasons for the project.

“It is important for us to provide excellent facilities to the student athletes who are involved in soccer, softball and track and field,” he said, “And we’ve had Title IX concerns with our facilities for over two decades. This is an excellent opportunity to rectify those concerns.”

Marchiony said the quality of the new facilities will allow the University to hold large events it is incapable of hosting now. Furthermore, it will put the University on the same level as its competitors.

“First, it will be an extremely high quality track, of which there are only a handful of others in the United States. Our goal is to host regional and national championships along with having a great home for the Kansas relays,” he said. “And in the other sports, soccer and softball, we’re going to provide facilities that rival the facilities of the teams against which we compete. It’s important for us to draw quality student athletes to Kansas.”

The original cost of the project was estimated to be around $50 million, but the Bliss Sports Foundation offered to commit to the project for $39 million. The University will be making payments for the next 30 years.

There has also been substantial cooperation between the University and the city on the project. The city purchased 26 acres of land from the University for $780,000, upon which it will construct a 181,000 square-foot recreation facility directly adjacent to the new soccer, softball and track complex.

Kevin Loos, vice-chairman of the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, expressed his support of the collaboration.

“We’ve voiced support for the KU relationship,” he said, “It’s a great partnership. I don’t know if the project would have happened if there hadn’t been cooperation between KU and the city.”

Marchiony agreed with Loos’s comments.

“The cooperation between the University and the city has helped make this a reality. It’s really been a terrific partnership, and we’re looking forward to seeing all of these facilities built,” he said.

According to Marchiony, if construction proceeds as expected, the new complex should be completed in a year.

“We’re hopeful that the 2014 Kansas Relays will be held at the new facility,” he said.

  • Updated Apr. 17, 2013 at 1:42 am