LAWRENCE, Kan. — Friday marked the return of a tradition at the University of Kansas: the “Hawk Walk.” KU football players walked down the hill from the Campanile headed to the stadium for their home opener.

Kickoff was slated for 7 p.m. with Kansas taking on Missouri State.

It’s also the first kickoff since KU leadership announced plans for a re-imagined stadium, including increased seat-capacity and a video board more than double the size of what the stadium currently has.

Football is an ascendant sport at KU, with fans happily remembering their 5-0 start to the 2022 season. The Jayhawks’ early season success eventually led to a bowl game appearance.

“Definitely grew up watching Jayhawks. Basketball has been big, but these past few years watching football’s been exciting,” KU freshman Anh Le said.

“I’ve seen the pictures of what the new stadium’s going to look like. I think it looks pretty sweet,” KU freshman Sam Van Sloun said.

The plan, released two week ago, show a new Gateway District and the new David Booth Memorial Stadium. The plans are slated for completion for the 2025 season and include a revamped West Side and North Bowl.

Plans also describe more amenities, such as increasing and modernizing restrooms and concession areas.

“I think it’s going to be really good. It’s just that change is hard,” Cathy Thrasher said.

Thrasher calls herself a tailgater with a high pain threshold.

“I’ve been coming to KU football games since 1970, and I’ve only missed maybe five,” Thrasher said.

“We used to be in that lot there,” Greg Thrasher, Cathy’s husband, said while pointing at the parking lots closer to the stadium. “And got bumped over here.”

“We’re the only two that would probably put up with each other because we bleed red and blue,” Cathy said.

The couple — easy to spot at different Jayhawk sporting events — said they hope renovations lead to more year-round usage, but they also don’t want to sacrifice school or personal history.

“This might affect your tailgating, right?” FOX4 asked.

“Well, it will. But we’ll just have to play it by ear and see how it all shakes out. I actually first came here before I ever came to college to come to an AAU meet. And we pulled up to the stadium and I saw the Campanile. And I said this is where I want to be,” Cathy Thrasher said.

“And that was when I was in the 5th grade,” she said.

During their August presentation, KU leadership said tuition money will not being used in the stadium upgrade. Instead, the project is reliant on private donor funds, which they are still seeking to reach their goal funding amount.