The University of Kentucky’s campus-wide facelift has touched almost every corner of campus. Gatton shines bright on Limestone, the new Academic Science Building beams from Rose Street and on the south side Kroger Field casts a shadow over the construction site of the new baseball stadium.
Every significant site on campus has undergone change, except “The House that Rupp Built,” Memorial Coliseum.
The former home of the Wildcats men’s basketball team was built in 1950 and is currently the home for women’s basketball, volleyball and gymnastics. It’s received minor upgrades throughout the years, but Mitch Barnhart told the Herald-Leader he’s ready to give the Coliseum a proper renovation. The initial study shows it will not be easy.
“It’s a little bit of an ‘Oh, wow,’” he said of reading the study, which was not made public because it’s still in draft form. Barnhart didn’t indicate what the dollar figure was, just that it was well over $10 million.
“My hopes were going to be that it was something that I could get my hands around. Now I think I’m going to get my arms around it a little differently.”
At the heart of campus on the Avenue of Champions and the home of multiple athletic programs, just being able to find the time to shut down the arena is difficult. That’s one seemingly simple complication, but there are many more. Once you fix one thing, you have to fix ten more.
Still, Barnhart is prepared to make the investment to highlight the landmark’s historic past. He drew comparisons to The Palestra, but there’s a long and winding road to reach the finish line for a new Memorial Coliseum.