“We only see it when it’s full on game night, and then it’s perfect,” said coach Bill Self, whose third-ranked Jayhawks open the Big 12 Tournament as the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinal round Thursday. “But you know, we don’t see what the fans go through or deal with, and you know, the amenities and concessions and all these things.
“I think it puts us in a position that for the next 10, 15, 20 years that we’re not going to have to do much to a building that’s already thought of to be about as fine a place to watch a game as it is.”
Affectionately nicknamed “The Phog,” Allen Fieldhouse was built along a stretch of Naismith Drive and opened on March 1, 1955, for a game against rival Kansas State. Since then, the iconic structure with its simple bowl seating and clerestory windows behind each of the baskets is consistently ranked among the top venues in college hoops.
It helps that the Jayhawks, who recently hung their sixth national title banner in its rafters, rarely lose there.
The arena has gone through plenty of facelifts through the years. The indoor track that once ran through the original concourse is long gone, and renovations in 2005 cleaned up the brick façade while creating the new Booth Family Hall of Athletics on the east side of the building. Another round of upgrades in 2009 widened concourses, improved the restrooms and built new locker rooms, training rooms, film rooms and players lounges.
The announced renovations to Allen Fieldhouse come nearly five months to the day that Kansas announced long-awaited renovations to Memorial Stadium, the Anderson Family Football Complex and other football facilities.
The school spent years studying ways to renovate one of the more archaic stadiums in college football. But it took a breakthrough season by coach Lance Leipold and a bowl appearance to generate enough support for the project.
Last week, the school released renderings of upgraded locker rooms and weight rooms that will be ready for next season. The project could eventually cost more than $300 million with new convention and retail spaces along that create what Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod has called “a primary campus entrance” for students and alumni.
“These renovations will enhance the gameday experience for Jayhawks, including our students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors,” Goff said of the Allen Fieldhouse project, adding the improvements will drive “new student recruitment, alumni engagement and donor relations, all of which benefit the university and our broader academic mission.”
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