Rupp renovation an obstacle to campus progress



As finals week began last semester, most students were stressing over a borderline grade which would certainly save or ruin their respective lives. Elsewhere in Lexington, however, a more important conflict had just commenced.

On the morning of Dec. 13, President Eli Capilouto announced he would not support state funding for the proposed renovation of Rupp Arena, as it would directly compete with state funding for campus building projects.

Several hours later, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said he would still ask the General Assembly in the upcoming legislative session for approximately $20 million to study the possibilities of reinventing Rupp Arena.

Within the week, a task force had approved the renovation plans. Required approval by the city of Lexington and the Lexington Center board are both expected to occur by the end of this month. The entire project may cost more than $300 million.

As a current junior, I listened to two years of nothing but the “Top 20” vision promoted by former President Lee Todd and the Board of Trustees. Capilouto has been a breath of fresh air to students, as he has made on-campus renovations his top priority. On Sunday he sent an email to faculty, staff and students explaining his latest attempts to achieve state funding.

Campus disrepair can no longer be ignored, as many classrooms buildings and dorms have become woefully outdated, and the student center is in need of a major facelift as well. It seems rather untimely that the mayor of Lexington would decide to compete for the very same funds Capilouto is lobbying for in order to restore our aging campus.  Jim Gray called this competition a “healthy thing,” that would encourage both sides to present their arguments more effectively.

As a UK student, I don’t find anything “healthy” in deliberately detracting funding from our university’s much needed restoration project, especially if the money will go toward an arena that already pulls in surplus revenue and is functioning completely properly.

As students of UK, it is our job to applaud Capilouto for his vision to improve our campus over the next several years, and at the same time to realize that a functioning campus is far more important than the latest and greatest college basketball arena in the nation.

We do not need to pour in $300 million so that our basketball arena can put the KFC Yum! Center to shame.  We do need to invest in our students and our campus, where more than $1 billion in construction is needed in the years to come.

If you are a student at UK and truly believe that renovating Rupp is the right course of action, then I suggest you reconsider why you are here.