Wildcat Lodge, 1978-2012



By David Schuh | @KernelSchuh

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After many years housing UK basketball players, the Joe B. Hall Wildcat Lodge is seeing its final days.

The Wildcat Lodge, which has housed players since 1978, will be leveled in November to make way for Phase II-A of UK’s privatized housing plan.

Now 34 years old, the Lodge will die a thought out and well-planned death by bulldozer next month. The new home of UK players is the $7 million Wildcat Coal Lodge in the adjacent parking lot.

Never before have so many future millionaires been collectively relocated at one time.

The lodge held quite a mystique over the years among UK players. The time spent within its walls were some of the fondest for former Cats, where some of UK’s greatest teams not only lived, but bonded.

“Some of my best memories are hanging out with my teammates in the lodge,” said Mark Krebs, who played at UK from 2007-10. “You’re with each other a lot, working hard, and it was nice to have that quiet time to ourselves.”

For a building that was a temporary home to 72 eventual NBA players, the lodge was unfortunately grayscale in nature. However, for some, it was an honor to live in such a bland-looking place. So many greats had been housed there before, it confused some players as to the framework’s appearance.

“It was almost like living in the White House,” said Derek Anderson, who played at UK from 1995-97. “We had a fortress, and it had great history behind it. I loved it.”

While the new lodge has all the elaborate nuances to house some of college basketball’s top players, the old one will be missed by those who spent some of their favorite years in it.

“There was a lot of history there, but things have to come to an end. I’m sad to see the old lodge taken down, but glad to see the new one open,” Krebs said.

UK announced the lodge’s death just a month before it would be taken out.

The shady façade was a mystery for most in Lexington, as the inner workings of the building were difficult to crack.

“Besides sneaking people in the back door?” Anderson said when asked about some secrets the lodge will take to the grave. “We did that one time, got caught and that never happened again.”

The lodge is survived by its successor, the Wildcat Coal Lodge, which features a statue of Joe B. Hall, the namesake of its predecessor. Hall was the head coach at UK from 1972-85.

“You hate to see it go,” Anderson said. “I wish those memories would be there forever.”