Wildcat Coal Lodge would get $21 million with new budget


The inside of the Wildcat Coal lodge when it opened in 2012. Photo by Latara Appleby | Staff

News Staff

Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget gave UK permission to spend $21 million to expand and renovate the Wildcat Coal Lodge, the residence hall for UK men’s basketball players, within the next two years. 

UK must ask the state for clearance before spending more than $600,000 cash on any project.

The Athletics Department would pay for the project, but UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said there is no guarantee that it will actually be completed.

Motivations behind the project include creating a new dining area for student athletes. The current dining area is in Blazer Hall, but that building will be put offline in January 2018, when construction of the new Student Center is complete.

Classroom buildings could also see renovations. The Chemistry/Physics Building and the Taylor Education Building could each receive $10.5 million, but other classroom buildings including Lafferty Hall, Grehan Journalism Building and Kastle Hall are not included in the budget.

Even buildings that are included on the list may not be renovated. UK asks the state for permission in case the money becomes available, but it is not yet clear which projects will receive funding.

Director of UK’s Physical Plant Division Kevin Kreide said UK has between $500 million and $1 billion in renovation projects that cannot be completed due to a lack of funding.

UK allots about $6 million every year — $4 million for the academic campus and $2 million for the medical campus — to spend on this backlog of projects, according to Kreide.

Blanton said the university is seeking $125 million from the state, which UK would match, to renovate and restore buildings in the campus core.

That $250 million was not included in Bevin’s budget.

“That would bring these old buildings up to new building standards,” Kreide said.

Without that money, or millions of dollars from some other source, UK would be continuously behind on maintenance throughout campus. If UK were to continue spending just $4 million renovating campus every year, Kreide said it would take more than 100 years to complete the long list of projects.

But the number of maintenance projects is continuously growing, and each project can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

The buildings, especially in the campus core, are becoming old, and thus becoming more and more difficult to maintain.

“We keep them running the best we can,” Kreide said.

Blanton said renovating UK’s older classroom buildings is one of the university’s top priorities. Though the $250 million for renovations did not make it to Bevin’s budget, Blanton said administrators will continue working with legislators and the governor to move the renovation projects forward.

“Projects like that are important,” Blanton said. “We’ll be talking with the legislators and governor in a cooperative spirit.”