May 28, 2014 — When the General Assembly decided last month not to allow state bonds to be used to help fund the Rupp Arena renovation, we said it was unfair because Louisville got state money for the KFC Yum Center four years earlier.
Helping fund the $350 million Rupp project since has been shown to be opposed by 75 percent of Kentucky voters who say the City of Lexington should foot the bill.
Also, it has become a major issue in Mayor Jim Gray’s campaign for reelection with his opponent, Anthony Beatty, saying Lexington can’t afford its share of the cost.
The newest nail in the coffin came last week from UK President Eli Capilouto who went public with a letter to the Lexington Center Corporation in which he said UK was not supporting the project for good reasons.
In our opinion, Capilouto was right on the money when he said the university had capital constructions needs far more important than its basketball arena and that it would not risk its political capital in Frankfort by lobbying for a project of questionable value.
We applaud the UK president for saying publicly that classrooms, laboratories and student housing are higher priorities than more luxury boxes for wealthy supporters.
From a basketball perspective, the condition of the arena hasn’t kept Coach John Calipari from winning a national championship, reaching two NCAA championship games and making three trips to the Final Four.
From our perspective, once we got past the arena envy caused by the KFC Yum Center, we realized that the Rupp project would not result in appreciably more seating for fans, that it might divert state funds UK needs for other projects and Calipari’s Cats seem to be doing OK in the existing arena.
As we say here in the hills, that old dog just won’t hunt.