UK basketball $4 million locker room renovation planned

18 February 2017

The University of Kentucky board of trustees approved an estimated $4 million renovation to the men’s basketball locker room at the Joe Craft Center at its Friday afternoon meeting.

According to an item on the board’s agenda, the renovation will “include numerous enhancements to improve functionality of the space to better meet the needs of student-athletes." The project will "renovate and improve" the existing locker and shower space, lounge area and team meeting room into “one multi-functional space." Addition of a “supplementation and nutrition fueling station, as well as a hydration station” is also included in the project.

"The building's 10 years old," UK coach John Calipari said. "It was built at a time where everything was kind of cut up. We're in this building 300 days a year, and it was time."

The project will be funded with private donations. The board also accepted a charitable grant recommendation of $1.5 million from Davis L. Marksbury to support the project. Marksbury is a 1980 graduate of the UK College of Engineering.

In October, UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart signaled changes to the Craft Center were coming, and Calipari agreed it was time for an upgrade.

"Let’s go through and let’s make it more modern," Calipari said then. "And there are some other ideas that I have. Again, you want to stay the gold standard. You want to tie all of what we’re doing together on the campus and all the other things."

Calipari also hinted in October the shift to "one multi-functional space" in the locker room might be coming in calling for the facility to reflect the "open concept" floor plan popular among home buyers today.

The renovation comes after the athletics department has upgraded facilities for the football, softball, track and field and soccer programs in recent years. The school is expected to begin construction on a new $49-million baseball stadium soon.

"I'm driving through campus and I go by and I see softball and soccer's new, and football, I see what it looks like from the road...I think it's great," Calipari said. "Baseball, track. You knew we had to be in line. There's a line because of us. I didn't mind being last. We just had to be in line."

The announcement came three days after the mother of five-star 2017 basketball recruit Trae Young was quoted by USA Today as saying UK's basketball housing had the "worst dorm rooms out of all the schools" Young was considering. The locker room renovation project does not include any upgrades to the five-year-old Wildcat Coal Lodge where men's basketball players live, but Calipari suggested changes could be coming there too.

"The lodge was built the way it was built because the NCAA told us no a thousand times, and then Taj Mahal's were built (at other schools) and they said, 'Well those are fine, though,'" Calipari said. "We were told no. Believe me, I was in the middle of it. So we now have to go – (donor) Joe Craft doesn't wanna hear that the lodge isn't this and this and that. We built what they allowed us to build, and so we'll probably have to go through that again."