In September 2020, Kansas State University, better known as K-State or KSU, in Manhattan, KS, announced that it would close its natatorium for the fall semester and that the facility would be permanently shuttered within three years. Friday, KSU announced an acceleration of its plans to close the facility permanently, per KMAN Radio.
Citing ongoing maintenance issues and $4 million in needed repairs, the university will not foot the bill. Due to the facility’s designation as a recreational facility, it is ineligible to receive money from the Educational Buildings Fund, an account presided over by the Kansas board of regents used to maintain educational buildings throughout the state.
Though K-State has not had a varsity swim team since 1976 when the “Wildkittens” had to fund their own program, the Natatorium has served as the center for all aquatics-related activities in Riley County, Geary County, Potowatamie County, Marshall County, and Clay County for decades.
Since the closure of the Natatorium, swimmers in Manhattan have been without a local indoor pool–the nearest is located in Wamego, approximately 25 minutes east (by car) of the KSU Natatorium. Fortunately for residents of the Little Apple, a 6-lane indoor pool is coming to Manhattan in the form of Genesis Health Clubs, which is in the process of opening a new facility in Manhattan.
June through August, Manhattan residents have access to lane space at the City Park Pool, CiCo Park Pool, and Northview Pool. Summer 2021, however, will likely see CiCo Park Pool closed, due to “staffing and infrastructure challenges in many departments, including the parks division technicians who are critical to opening and operating the pools’ water chemistry, pumps, filters and other components to ensure safe water multiple times a day,” according city manager Ron Fehr, per the Manhattan Mercury newspaper. As of Sunday, February 28th, over 600 people have signed a petition called ‘Reopen All Manhattan City Pools‘ to keep all taxpayer-funded pools open in Manhattan for the summer of 2021.