I listened to an interview today with Dr. Lee Todd concerning the remarks made at his retirement press conference by Coach Brooks. There were a myriad of interesting answers to some of the questions asked about points made by Brooks, but one stuck out to me.
Dr. Todd stated that UK has been constantly looking into upgrading the football facilities at UK, and that he has been met by continuing higher costs than the school can afford. He was quoted as saying that suites are not feasible due to the fact that they are just too expensive, and that he had several people including Mitch Barnhart working on the problem. Barnhart is working on it from a different angle than has been approached in the past.
Mitch has decided that the only way to do this and for it to work right is to make the football, baseball, and basketball upgrades a package. I do not know if this simply means that UK is looking to build a new sports complex for all three sports, which would be a monumental undertaking in my opinion, or if he is simply trying to get one deal done to upgrade all of the existing facilities including Rupp Arena. If the last couple of months is any indicator, there are plenty of attendance records to be broken at Rupp if the additional seating is available, and possibly so at Commonwealth as well. So Mitch seems to be trying to give Coach Cal a one of a kind facility as well as giving football and baseball a state of the art upgrade as well. To me this is some extraordinary thinking when it comes to trying to make all athletics programs better at UK.
In the past as a "basketball" school we have let other athletic areas suffer in the name of making our hallowed halls of roundball a monument to our history. Barnhart has decided that it is a better approach to make everyone in athletics better by making it a "package". Seems to me this is the way to go if we want things to continue to improve on the gridiron as well as the diamond.
The idea of a multi-sport complex is a pipe dream in my estimation, because it would require either abandoning Rupp Arena or Commonwealth Stadium and I don't see UK as being ready to do either one of those right now. However, should the money come forth as it did in the form of the Wildcat "Coal" Lodge, I would not be opposed to seeing it happen. More and more universities are going to these types of facilities in an effort to lower operating costs as budgets tighten all over the country. I will say this for Mitch, this is a gutsy move on his part, as it would really cement his tenure as AD with UK as being one of the most successful in terms of bringing all of UK athletics into the forefront of college athletics. More and more I am impressed with Mitch's ability to see into the future with his decision making and his approach to the position. As in the case when Brooks came onto the scene, as late as last year, Mitch's head was being called for on a silver platter for his hiring decisions where coaches are concerned. Looks like he has turned that one around too.
For us as fans I think it's time to get behind Mitch and his idea of making all athletics better at UK. And if he can pull off this upgrade, I think he has also earned the raise that Todd stated he hasn't had since coming to UK.