Monday, December 26, 2011

Lessons To Be Learned

Hats off to new UK Prsident Dr. Eli Capilouto! He gets it. Yes, this is a basketball crazy state, but the state of education is, properly, his first concern; and should also be ours.

So while many cities try to one-up the competition with fancier and fancier arenas (read: luxury suites for the well-heeled), our President has brought the discussion down to earth. UK needs its scarce funds for faculty salaries, student aid, and maintenance of buildings UK already has.

If Rupp is to be renovated, and thank goodness that seems to be the approach, (not building a new arena), UK has no funds to spare. Lexington will have to go it alone here; and that's not bad. It will clarify the funding picture, as well as the revenue picture, if any.

That said, I suspect some renovation of Rupp, and the entire Civic Center, is needed. That proposed sketch of what Rupp might look like is just excellent! That kind of bold architecture will bring people and conventions here, and upgrade the city's cultural status.

Hopefully, some type of bonding approach will allow us to proceed toward that goal. Using bonds would also negate UK's opposition to Lexington acquiring state funds which they might see as money that might otherwise have gone there.

Couple of caveats: (1) If UK had not slighted its maintenance and repair budgets so drastically over the years, it wouldn't need so much money now for repairs; and some seed money might, just might be available to help with renovating Rupp. (2) This really isn't just about Rupp but the larger issue of a possible upgrade to the Civic Center to attract more conventions. Rupp is a big part of that but not the whole cookie. (3) while I support the arts wholeheartedly I am a bit concerned by suggestions that some type of expanded downtown arts district should be part of all this, and have a place at the table, (or is it the trough?) for funds. Most of the art district proposals seem to be more "night life" than basic "cultural" expansion. Maybe we need to concentrate on getting Rupp and LCC renovated; that's a pretty big project by itself. (4) To get the entire county to support a $100 million plus project means selling it on county-wide benefits, and not just to hotels, bars, and the "hospitality industry" as primary beneficiaries.

The renovation approach works for me. That bold looking new Rupp is great. And a Cat Walk from campus to downtown is a logical next step after S. Limestone's face lift. Let's hope we can accomplish this in the next few years, without draining vital funds from our Flagship University.

I'm just sayin'...

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