University of Kansas Memorial Stadium

University of Kansas Memorial Stadium

stadium_name = University of Kansas Memorial Stadium
nickname =

location = W 11th St & Alabama St
Lawrence, KS 66044
broke_ground = 1920
opened = October 29, 1921
closed =
demolished =
owner = University of Kansas
operator = University of Kansas
surface = AstroPlay
construction_cost = $275,000 USD
architect =
former_names =
tenants = Kansas Jayhawks (NCAA) (1921-Present)
seating_capacity = 50,071

University of Kansas Memorial Stadium is a football stadium located in Lawrence, Kansas, on the campus of the University of Kansas. The stadium is dedicated as a memorial to the KU students who died in World War I. The primary use of the stadium is to host the University's football and track and field intercollegiate athletics teams. Memorial Stadium is recognized as the first stadium built on a college campus west of the Mississippi River, and is the seventh oldest collegiate stadium in the nation. Memorial Stadium is frequently used for community and athletic events. It is the part-time home field of the two high schools in Lawrence, Lawrence High School and Free State High School, a job it shares with Haskell Stadium at Haskell Indian Nations University.


Memorial Stadium is dedicated to the University of Kansas students who fought and died in World War I.

After playing its first two years of intercollegiate football (1890-91) in old Central Park on Massachusetts Street, Kansas built its first football field in 1892. It was called McCook Field and was named for Colonel John McCook who donated $2,500 to trigger a building fund drive.

Like most stadiums of those early days, it was nothing more than a set of wooden stands bordering each side of the field. It was laid out east and west on a site adjacent to the present Memorial Stadium. In fact, the horseshoe of Memorial Stadium covers much of old McCook Field. The east end zone of the original field was 400 feet from Mississippi Street and was bounded on the south by McCook Street. At that time McCook Street extended from Mississippi to Maine Street cutting directly through the present-day stadium.

Kansas played its first game on McCook Field on Oct. 27, 1892, defeating Illinois, 26–4.

Kansas continued to compete at McCook Field until 1920 when Jayhawk fans, students and faculty began a drive for a new facility. The idea of a new stadium came on the heels of a 20–20 tie with Nebraska at McCook Field in 1920.

Coaching in what would be his first and only season, Dr. F.C. "Phog" Allen directed Kansas to the tie after trailing 20–0 at halftime. Although Allen would go on to gain greater fame as a basketball coach, the idea to build a new football stadium was just one of his many innovations at Kansas.

On the Monday following the game, fans, students and faculty gathered to celebrate the comeback. In mass, more than $200,000 was pledged to build a "modern" concrete structure. Allen envisioned a horseshoe shaped stadium, and, under his direction, construction began immediately.

The Jayhawks moved into Memorial Stadium in 1921 and defeated Kansas State 21-7 on October 29, before 5,160 fans. When the stadium opened, the east and west stands were complete with a capacity of 22,000. The final game of the 1921 season saw Kansas down Missouri 15-9 before 15,480 fans in Memorial Stadium.

Construction and Renovation

Memorial Stadium was built in 1920 funded by students, faculty, and fans. Originally the stadium had only east and west bleachers, which were expanded southward in 1925. The north bowl seating section was added in 1927 to give the stadium its horseshoe shape which it retains today. The west bleachers were expanded significantly upwards in 1963, with similar additions to the east side in 1965. A major renovation in 1978 repaired concrete and upgraded home and visiting team facilities.

Permanent lights were installed in 1997 and the current infrastructure is the result of a 1998 renovation. The press box and scholarship suites saw significant improvement and expansion in 1999, and the MegaVision video board was installed in the same year.

The track which rings the stadium has been resurfaced several times, most recently in 1999.

The field has been artificial turf since 1970. The current AstroPlay surface has been in place since 2000.

A new scoreboard with two video strips was mounted at the top of the stadium's north bowl for the 2005 season, correcting a quirk of the stadium that north-driving teams had no way to see the clock without turning around. In 2006, the playing field was named Kivisto Field in honor of prominent donor, Tom Kivisto.

On October 6, 2006 at precisely 11:27am, the University of Kansas broke ground on the new $31-million Anderson Family Football Complex. Plans for the building include offices, academic areas, a weight room, locker rooms, an audio-visual room, meeting rooms, a cardio room, a hydro-therapy room, a nutrition area and a display area. The addition is to be joined by new practice fields on the east side of the stadium. [Cite press release| publisher=University of Kansas| date=October 6, 2006| url=| title=Homecoming Weekend Starts with a Bang at Football Facility Groundbreaking| accessdate=2006-10-07|]


The stadium's current official capacity is 50,071, although the horseshoe shape allows tailgaters to view the game from the Campanile hill to the south. A then-record crowd of 51,574 saw the Jayhawks defeat Kansas State 25-18 in 1973.

At the Jayhawks' November 5, 2005 streak-snapping 40-15 victory over Nebraska, it was announced that that attendance record was broken, with a standing-room-only crowd of 51,750.

On November 18, 2006 a then attendance record of 51,821 fans watched the Jayhawks defeat Kansas State, 39–20. The home attendance average of 44,137 in seven games during the year set a new season record, surpassing the prior season's record of 43,675 in six contests. Over the last three seasons, stadium attendance has averaged more than 41,000 per game. [Cite press release| publisher=University of Kansas| date=November 18, 2006| url=| title=KU-KSU Postgame Notes| accessdate=2006-11-18|]

On August 30, 2008 the Jayhawks set a new record of 52,112 fans in attendence. The Jayhawks beat Florida International in the season opener.


Kansas Jayhawks football

*In 2005, the Jayhawks went undefeated at Memorial Stadium—the first since 1951. The team allowed just two touchdowns in first quarters at home during the season. [Cite press release| publisher=University of Kansas| date=November 26, 2005| url=| title=Kansas Postgame Notes| accessdate=2006-10-07|]
*In 2007, the Jayhawks went undefeated at home again, highlighted by a 76–39 victory over Nebraska. The 76 points by the Jayhawks was the most scored in Kansas history, and also the most points given up in Nebraska history.

The Kansas Relays

Memorial Stadium has also hosted the Kansas Relays track and field event every year since 1923, except in 1943, 1944 and 1945 due to World War II and 1998 and 1999 due to construction. The Relays annually see top area high school and intercollegiate competitors, and the open events often draw Olympic runners such as Maurice Greene and Marion Jones. The Kansas Relays is the location world-record holder Justin Gatlin tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2006. Gatlin is currently serving an eight year suspension.

Popular Culture

*Prominently featured in the 1983 television movie, "The Day After".

Notes and References

External links

* [ Facilities at]
* [ The Kansas Relays]

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