Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart’s vision of reinventing Commonwealth Stadium has never been closer to becoming reality.
On Thursday, Gov. Steve Beshear and legislative leaders in Frankfort, Ky., announced their strong support for University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto’s plan to pursue bonding self-finance a “dramatic $275 million transformation of the UK campus.” UK Athletics and its football program figure prominently into those plans, as a $110-million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium and the Nutter Training Facility is in the works.
“This is critical,” Capilouto said in a video message. “The success of our football program is how athletics remains one of the handful of financially self-sufficient programs in the country. It’s how athletics funds millions of dollars in academic scholarships and other University needs each year.”
The project will provide for a reinvention of the game-day atmosphere at Commonwealth and will be paid for entirely by the athletics department. Funding the improvement will be made possible by the 16-20 suites and approximately 2,000 club seats to be added. Capilouto reported that there is already a waiting list for this new premium seating.
Construction will begin this year and is estimated to be complete by July 2015. When all is said and done, Commonwealth’s current capacity of 67,942 will be maintained or slightly reduced while the value of all remaining seats will be enhanced. This will be accomplished by improving concessions, restrooms and security.
Other planned additions through the project include a multi-purpose recruiting room, new home team and press facilities, a team store and a new full-service kitchen. At the Nutter Training Center – the hub of UK football – upgrades will be made “for the daily benefit” of student-athletes.
“This important measure is possible because of the leadership of our athletics director, Mitch Barnhart, and his commitment to running a highly successful program that is financially self-sustaining, that gives back to the institution, and that always places integrity first,” Capilouto said.
Not only will UK Athletics fund the Commonwealth and Nutter renovations that are vital to the health of the football program, Capilouto also announced on Thursday that the athletics department will play a key role in the construction of the new Academic Science Building. UK Athletics will fund $65 million of the estimated $100-million project.
“We will do something very few universities in this country have done — utilize the incredible brand that is our athletics program to help fund their needed facilities improvements and also one of our most important academic facilities,” Capilouto said. “Our current science building is the second-most utilized classroom space on campus. It is outdated and contains neither the classroom nor research space we need. This will change that.”
The University and UK Athletics are working together like never before and now fans and alumni can join in as well. To show your support, follow @BBNunited on Twitter, like BBNUnited on Facebook and visit BBNunited.com.