Plans for athletic facilities gloss over more urgent issues on campus

Let’s not kid ourselves here. Athletics are a staple of UK and most of the outside population views this university in terms of its sports teams.

But that doesn’t make these plans for a new basketball arena, new baseball arena and major renovations to the football stadium any more logical. UK should not throw around numbers like $300 million and $400 million without thinking about the university as a whole

UK students are passionate about our football, basketball and baseball programs, but they are also passionate about the quality of their education. Students are seeing tutoring programs cut as a result of budget slashing. Tuition is being raised every year. Employees are continually denied their pay raises.

UK has more pressing needs than new and renovated athletic facilities. And didn’t the basketball team just get a brand new $30 million practice facility anyway?

It comes down to weighing the needs of UK, and these new arenas and renovations just aren’t at the top of the list. Rupp Arena, while not new by any stretch, is still one of the premier venues in college basketball.

How many other programs boast a 23,000-seat arena with the kind of history you’ll find at Rupp? It’s also clean and very structurally sound. And the Lexington Center, which Rupp is apart of, is a fantastic facility. The city of Lexington should be proud of the entire complex.

Many are in favor of a new basketball arena because the current Rupp does not have any club or luxury box seating, which often bring in additional revenue. But renovations are still a better course of action if something must be done. The huge cost of building a new arena from the ground up is unwarranted, bordering on wasteful.

Cliff Hagan Baseball Stadium is more than adequate for UK’s growing and successful baseball program.

Commonwealth Stadium needs to start selling out on a week-by-week and year-by-year basis before any additions should be considered. It’s still the biggest sporting venue in the state, and is overall an excellent facility.

It also seems peculiar that UK brings this idea to the table just over a year after the University of Louisville made final arrangements for a new downtown basketball arena. You can’t help but think that part of the reasoning here is to simply match U of L. The rivalry has truly become absurd if that is the case.

Any given day, any student on campus could probably give a laundry list of things they dislike about campus or things that need to be fixed. University administration needs to make a point of addressing the needs of the people that really make UK function on a daily basis.

These three projects are all reportedly being funded by private contributions. This is good, because there are certainly more pressing needs for our tax dollars.

Obviously, these private contributors can choose to have their money allocated in any manner they wish, but couldn’t these people or businesses be persuaded to make contributions for things UK really needs? How about some new dorms? The university seems to have difficulty keeping them open (see the Boyd and Jewell fiascos), and many could use a complete overhaul.

No one denies the enormous impact athletics have at UK or how much money football and basketball generate, but the students are still what make UK go and their needs should come before anyone else’s. It’s also the students who keep UK Athletics thriving. If these private contributors truly care about the university, they should keep that in mind.