Sunday, June 09, 2013

Should the taxpayers of Lawrence subsidize the KU Athletic Association?

Should the taxpayers of Lawrence subsidize the KU Athletic Association?

Rock Chalk Park was supposed to be a partnership.  KU was never part of the partnership.  Rather, the partnership was the City, the KU Athletic Association (KUAA), the Endowment Association, and Fritzel Construction. 

The project was to cost $25 million.  The no-bid recreation center building contract was estimated to cost $19.9 million.  The land was to cost about $800 thousand and the architectural fees were estimated to cost about $900 thousand.  The City’s share of the infrastructure was to be $3.4 million. The City’s share of the infrastructure was the amount left under the $25 million cap after deducting the costs of the land, architectural fees and the building.  The Athletic Association was to pay the remainder of the $8.3 million in infrastructure, about $4.9 million.  The argument for KUAA paying this share was simple; the KUAA would use this shared infrastructure to service its facilities.

Public Bidding was Supposed to Save the Taxpayers Money

After the public complained, the City Commission decided to bid the building, a procedure that should have been part of the original partnership.  The $19.9 million building came in at $10.5 million.  This should have been a savings to the taxpayers of $9.4 million, but it appears to have become a windfall to the Athletic Association.

City Commission Rushes to Approve a Revised Budget 

In great haste, the City Commission pushed through a new budget Tuesday night.  The public only had hours to study the numbers. 

The project now will cost $24.5 million with the building costing $10.5 million.  The City will pay for the entire shared infrastructure now estimated to cost $12.3 million after more careful estimates were made and some upgrades were added to the list.  The Assist foundation will now contribute $2 million.  The net result will lower the taxpayer costs to $22.5 million, but the KU AA Association makes no contribution toward the cost of the infrastructure serving its facilities.


Rock Chalk Park Cost Estimates, Original and Revised
Original Estimated Costs
Revised Estimated Costs
City Web Site
Memo 6/4/2013
Architecture Fees
Recreation Center Building
Assist Foundation
City share of Infrastructure
* Calculated as the residual remaining under the cap $25 million
Estimated Infrastructure
Estimated Infrastructure
Costs Original
Costs Revised
Total shared infrastructure
Fritzel/KUAA share of infrastructure


Tuesday evening, only a few hours after releasing the new budget, the City Commission rushed through approval of this arrangement.  Given the rush, very few members of the public were even aware of what had happened.

It is time for the City Commission to explain its haste.

Should the taxpayers of Lawrence subsidize the KU Athletic Association? 
No.  The infrastructure includes parking lots, lighting, drainage systems and more that is all shared between the City of Lawrence and the KU Athletic Association.  The taxpayers of Lawrence should not be expected to shoulder the full costs of this infrastructure.

It is time for the KU Athletic Association to step up and contribute.  Rather than reap a windfall from the public bidding that should accrue to the taxpayers, the Athletic Association should pay for its share of the shared infrastructure.