Kansas’ first change made in the major renovation effort at Memorial Stadium was not be a cosmetic one.
The university on Wednesday afternoon made the first step toward amending the name of the near century-old facility, with chancellor Douglas Girod requesting authorization from the Kansas Board of Regents in Topeka to add the name of university and athletic department major donor David Booth to the facility. Board members unanimously approved the proposal.
The stadium’s new official name, Girod revealed, will be David Booth-Kansas Memorial Stadium.
In September, Booth made a record $50 million donation to the athletic department to partially fund its ongoing “Raise the Chant” effort, a $350 million campaign to renovate athletic facilities with a primary focus on football’s Memorial Stadium.
The seventh oldest collegiate stadium in the nation, Memorial Stadium is dedicated to the KU students who fought and died in World War I. The facility opened nearly a century ago when the Jayhawks hosted Kansas State in the stadium’s first-ever contest, a 21-7 victory for KU played before 5,160 onlookers on Oct. 29, 1921.
Booth, a Lawrence native whose last name is already on the Booth Family Hall of Athletics adjacent to the east side of Allen Fieldhouse, is a 1968 graduate of KU. He served as an usher at Jayhawk football games as a youth before later in life co-founding Dimensional Fund Advisers, now located in Austin, Texas.
In 2010, Booth purchased James Naismith’s original rules of basketball at an auction for $4.3 million. The rules were donated to KU and are now housed inside the campus’ DeBruce Center.
“(The $50 million donation) is not all David has done. He’s been a tremendous supporter for decades,” Girod told the board. “… So in honor of that we propose to rename the stadium both to honor David Booth and his support of the university but also as an opportunity to rededicate the memorial component of that, reflecting the process used at the University of Texas who a few years ago went through a similar process (for Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium).”
The opportunity to re-emphasize the World War I memorial aspect of the stadium is an important one for the university, Girod said.
“If you asked our students, I think the vast majority would not know what that stadium is a memorial to and you’d get a lot of different answers to that,” Girod said.
“Which is all fine and appropriate, but it’s a great opportunity for us to elevate that back up.”