The Kansas Board of Regents is holding a two-day virtual meeting on Wednesday & Thursday.
Among the agenda items, Wichita State University is requesting approval to tear down Cessna Stadium.
The stadium was originally built in 1946, with a significant renovation in 1969 expanding to a seating capacity of 30,000. The stadium functioned as a football and track facility, and was the home of the WSU football program until it was discontinued in 1986.
The stadium currently serves as the venue for the annual Kansas State High School Track and Field Championship, and the K.T. Woodman Track Classic.
The stadium consists of a lower section of concrete bleacher seating as well as a higher section of steel seating structure, and a press box on the west side. There are numerous concrete/concrete block enclosures incorporated into the lower section of concrete bleachers extending to the area below the upper section of steel seating structure. These enclosures house team locker rooms and support facilities that are being relocated to the new Student Athlete Center currently under construction adjacent to Koch Arena. There are also freestanding concrete/concrete block structures under the steel seating structure serving as public restrooms, concessions and ticketing areas.
The University says the stadium is in poor condition and has outlasted the typical lifespan of exposed steel structures. It says a 2017 study indicated that significant steel repair is needed – more than $100,000 was invested at that time for immediate safety repairs. WSU says the facility continues to be exposed to the elements and deterioration of the steel structure will require extensive repairs and is a continuing public safety concern. The University also says the facility is not ADA compliant and\ past studies have indicated that significant demolition and rework are needed to bring the facility into compliance.
Proposed plans entail demolishing the stadium in two separate phases (demolition of the east stands as Phase 1 and demolition of the west stands and press box as Phase 2) to allow track activities to continue until a new, smaller multi-purpose stadium is built on the site serving both men’s and women’s athletics and the regional community and economy by supporting soccer, lacrosse, and track and field events for both Wichita State University as well as K-12 aged tournaments from around the Midwest/Southwest in partnership with regional clubs.
WSU says the cost of razing the building is estimated at $1.4 million ($625,000 for the east stands and $775,000 for the west stands) which will be paid for from private money and restricted fee funds. WSU says opportunities will be explored to re-use any materials that can be salvaged from the demolition.