Should there be cause for concern with latest Kansas football stadium update?

Coastal Carolina v Kansas
Coastal Carolina v Kansas / Brian Davidson/GettyImages

Kansas Athletic Director Travis Goff provided a recent update about the ongoing Gateway Project at the University of Kansas – specifically the renovations to David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium – that has given some Kansas football fans cause for concern.

While speaking to members of Downtown Lawrence Inc. last week, Goff provided several details about the ongoing renovations. One of the things he touched on was seating capacity, which is expected to decrease by approximately 5,000 seats compared to the previous stadium.

However, that is not new information. Goff told the media following the official release of the project plans back in August 2023 that seating capacity would be reduced but remain above 40,000. That hasn’t changed.

“Whether that’s 40,624 or 42,000, we will see what happens there,” Goff told the Downtown Lawrence Inc. crowd last week.

What KU decides to do with the east side of the stadium (which is still standing) will determine what the final seating capacity will be, but that isn’t part of the renovation plans at this point.

Phase I of the gateway district project only includes new builds to the north, west, and southwest portions of the stadium – along with a new conference center on the north end and the Anderson Family Football Complex weight room and locker room upgrades which have already been made.

This also isn’t new information. This was laid out in the project plans on the gateway district site from the beginning that the district would be done in phases.

So, what is it that Goff said recently that is giving (or should give) Kansas fans some cause for concern? That answer lies with the uncertain timeline surrounding Phase II of the project.

It was shared from the beginning that the east side of the stadium – along with the hotel, restaurant, and other proposed amenities – wasn’t going to be touched by the time the new stadium opens in fall 2025. Those were going to be addressed in Phase II.

The concerning part is that eight months later Goff and the KU administration don’t even have an idea of when Phase II is going to start.

“It is unknown as it stands,” Goff said in his update. “And, by the way, we can’t afford it yet.”

That means KU could be sitting with a three quarters-finished stadium for perhaps longer than anticipated. Not only will that limit the number of fans who can attend games, it will also be an unwelcome blemish on what should otherwise be a shiny new home for Kansas football and entrance point for the university.

Although the unknown timeline for the total completion of the stadium is a bit concerning, it’s no reason to panic – as of now. Goff has earned the benefit of the doubt at this point in his career and fans should trust he will get this right, as he has with most of the other decisions he’s made since taking over as athletic director at KU.