Wichita State University plans to tear down Cessna Stadium. The school received permission from the Kansas Board of Regents on April 15 to demolish the 30,000-seat football stadium.
WSU ended its football program nearly 35 years ago, but the stadium regularly hosts the annual Kansas State High School Track and Field Championships, billed as the largest high school track and field meet in the country. This year’s meet, set for May 29-30, has been postponed.
In a report to the regents, WSU said “the stadium is in poor condition” and not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The school says bringing the stadium up to ADA requirements would require significant work.
WSU says it spent more than $100,000 for immediate safety repairs after a 2017 study said work was needed on the stadium’s steel structure.
WSU wants to spend $1.4 million in private funds and restricted fee funds on demolition. The stadium would be razed in two phases, with the east grandstand coming down first followed by the west grandstand. WSU hopes that will allow track activities to continue as demolition takes place. No demolition date is set.
WSU plans to eventually build a smaller multi-purpose stadium on the site that would be suitable for soccer, lacrosse, and track and field events. It would be used by WSU as well as regional youth tournaments.
The regents unanimously approved the request 9-0 with little discussion.
“We believe demolition is the best course of action when and if funding sources are identified,” WSU athletic director Darron Boatright said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with KSHSAA and hosting the state track meet as well as track and field meets for our program.”
Work on the original stadium began in 1941 with funding from the Works Progress Administration, but was halted in 1942 because of World War II.
Dedicated to men and women who served in the war, Veterans Field was completed for the 1948 football season, with seating for 15,000 fans, a press box, concessions stands and locker rooms. Cessna Aircraft provided a major donation to help with 1969 renovations.
In addition to regular sports, it hosted a variety of other events like fireworks displays, cricket tournaments organized by international students, a Quidditch tournament for Harry Potter fans, and concerts that included the Rolling Stones and The Faces with Rod Stewart.
– Contributing: KMUW Radio