‘Live from the rib cage.’ New KU football stadium design gets mixed reviews from fans

No bones about it: One design element of the soon-to-be transformed University of Kansas football stadium has quickly earned the project a slew of nicknames.

“The bird cage.”

“The rib cage.”

“Crown rib roast stadium.”

The reason for the reviews? More than three dozen metal towers arching above the stadium to house a new lighting system.

KU says they are inspired by something that grows from the land, but that’s not what some folks on social media are seeing.

They think those light structures look like bones.

“Live from The Rib cage,” wrote a fan on the KU football program’s Facebook page.

“Playing inside of a T-Rex rib cage. Nice,” wrote another.

“It looks like they are playing in the belly and bones of a great beast,” added yet another.

The reimagined David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, part of an expansive, multi-phase “Gateway District” project on the north end of campus, is slated to open in August 2025, university and Kansas athletics announced Tuesday. Construction begins in December after football season.

“Oh man … from the looks of it, it’s going to fit right in there with a lot of the top NFL stadiums,” former KU football player and four-time Pro Bowler Chris Harris told reporters Tuesday.

“A lot of NFL teams are starting to redesign their stadiums kind of in this format,” he added.

HNTB in Kansas City, a leader in sports architecture, and Lawrence-based Multistudio designed the project and stadium, KU officials said.

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, home of the Las Vegas Raiders, and Levi’s Stadium, home to the San Francisco 49ers, are just two of HNTB’s many sports projects, school officials pointed out.

“It has a soccer stadium vibe with those lights,” one Facebook observer wrote.

Those light poles are meant to evoke “the landscape of our great state when you think about wheat and tallgrass,” Kansas athletic director Travis Goff said in revealing the plans Tuesday.

Kansas football released a first look at new stadium renovations and construction that will begin at 11th and Mississippi streets this year.
Kansas football released a first look at new stadium renovations and construction that will begin at 11th and Mississippi streets this year.

But fans are, well, more literal. One called the lights “chopstick-looking things.”

“Looks like bird spikes. Will the Jayhawks be able to get it?” joked another Facebook user.

Some think the lights make the stadium look like a giant nest. (Do Jayhawks roost?)

Others — who obviously are squinting way too hard — see a giant Venus flytrap.

For some, the stadium looks like dinner. A really fancy meal.

“Can alumni vote on canceling the crown rib roast stadium?” wrote one Facebook critic.

Some say the lights call to mind the fence around Jurassic Park.

“I’m naming it Jurassic Hawk Stadium,” one fan wrote.

On the College Football on Fox Facebook page, reviews ranged from “looks like a bug flipped onto its back” to “it kinda looks like one of those old sunken wooden ships they bring back up.”

“I like it,” wrote one excited KU fan. “When we play KSU we can call it a cage match.”

Or could there be, with all those bone references, a new slogan for KU football, a dark warning akin to the basketball program’s “Beware of the Phog.”

Welcome to the boneyard.