Kentucky's long quest for state bonding to fund a complete 're-invention' of Commonwealth Stadium is closer to becoming a reality with state political leaders announcing Thursday that it will support a measure to bond $110 million for the project.
The move is a critical component to the Kentucky athletics department finally undertaking a large-scale renovation of the stadium that was originally constructed in 1973 and expanded in 1999, but has had no major structural improvements since then. Getting state bonding approval for the project had met stiff opposition from state leaders in the past but cleared a significant hurdle when former Kentucky Senate President David Williams resigned late last year.
Support for the bonding had picked up in recent months, with sources involved with the process telling CatsPause.com in November that they believed a deal would be reached and announced in early 2013. Governor Steve Beshear, Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers threw their support behind the plan on Thursday, asking the state House of Representatives and Senate to pass the legislation.
“This investment will change Kentucky,” UK president Dr. Eli Capilouto said in a video message detailing the changes coming to UK's campus.
With that finally coming to pass UK will now embark on an ambitious makeover of its football home. Early this week UK athletics unveiled a new website geared toward donors in its K-Fund program which featured a section detailing the enhancements it would like to include in the remodeling of Commonwealth Stadium. The goal is to either keep stadium capacity roughly the same (67,606) or slightly lower it while adding 10 to 15 suites and 2,000-2,500 club seats.
Also included in the project would be what UK called 'spectator driven improvements' like new concessions, restrooms, video boards and security, a new team store, and enhanced UK branding in and around the stadium. UK also plans to build new press facilities, a new full service kitchen and the long sought after recruiting room to connect the stadium and adjacent Nutter Fieldhouse.
Construction is set to begin in 2013 with an estimated completion date of July 2015. The entire tab for the renovations will be paid for by UK athletics through the money generated from the new luxury suites. UK athletics will also pay approximating $66 million of a new $100 million science building on campus.
UK estimates the project will require $125 million, which means the bonding announcement gives the program a major shot in the arm on the heels of the excitement generated by hiring new coach Mark Stoops.
For more details on the changes coming to UK, Capilouto's video message can be found HERE.