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A Difficult Renovation Looms Over Memorial Coliseum

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.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

2 Comments for A Difficult Renovation Looms Over Memorial Coliseum

  1. John Henry
    8:10 pm August 10, 2017 Permalink

    I hope the renovation includes a statue of Adolph Rupp. It is long over due.

  2. serdi
    10:56 pm August 10, 2017 Permalink

    The Coliseum in its 1977 state was the finest basketball venue ever. Cameron indoor is 10 years older than than the Coliseum. We should have never left. They could have built out the Ave of Champs end and gotten the capacity out to 16 K.

    I hope that while the cannot restore the campus view end to it original state, that they can restore the lighting in the ceiling, take out that hideous tract lighting, and do awayway withose hideous fans.

    Restore her to as close to 1977 stays as possible.

    All of us who experienced her in her glory days would be very grateful.