UK Athletics to modernize Memorial Coliseum, home of four varsity athletic teams


Renderings show the future plans for Memorial Coliseum, which are expected to be completed by fall 2024. Provided by UK Athletics.

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

The University of Kentucky Athletics Committee officially endorsed renovation plans to Memorial Coliseum on Thursday.

The arena, completed in 1950 as the second home for the Kentucky mens basketball team, currently hosts UK’s womens basketball, STUNT, gymnastics and volleyball teams.

It also plays host to numerous on campus events, such as DanceBlue and Greek Sing.

The committee’s endorsement means that the plan for the remodel will be presented to the University Board of Trustees on Friday.

Named Memorial Coliseum in honor of Kentuckians who have died in military service, the arena had garnered criticism in recent years for its lack of modern amenities, including its lack of air conditioning.

The Coliseum is not merely just the playing area though, also being part of the Center for Academic and Tutorial Services, an athlete focused tutoring center, and the Joe Craft Center, which acts as the practice facilities for the mens and womens basketball teams and home base for UK Athletics as a whole.

The remodel will include upgrading the climate control systems, modern seating, system upgrades from lighting to security and numerous other improvements. The renovation will also update the memorial in which the arena is named after, with it having originally been dedicated to World War II veterans, but also later including veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam War and any subsequent military services afterward.

The modernization of the facility, while a much-needed improvement to an otherwise outdated facility, was also significant for another reason, with the $82 million project being the largest of its kind at Kentucky to be dedicated almost entirely to womens athletics, with all four varsity programs who compete in the Coliseum being made up entirely of women.

“I’m excited about the impact this will have on the entire campus and community, along with our athletics programs,” Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said in a press release. “This is the largest single investment in women’s sports in our history and we are thrilled about the transformational effect for UK Athletics.”

UK Athletics anticipates the four programs to be able to compete inside Memorial Coliseum once again as soon as the fall of 2024, while additional parts of the Coliseum will continue to be under renovation.

The renovations, if approved, would begin after the conclusion of the 2023 STUNT season, which is set to kick off this weekend in the Dallas Baptist Tournament.

The competing locations of the teams affected for the 2023-24 seasons are to be determined.