UK plans $6M million upgrade for football stadium

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by AP

WHAS11.com

Posted on April 22, 2011 at 2:18 PM

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Faculty members at the University of Kentucky are raising questions about a $6.25 million plan to install a new sound system and video scoreboards in Commonwealth Stadium before the first home football game in September.
  
The proposal has raised concern among some faculty at the cash-strapped university, which hasn't increased most staff salaries for three years, according to a report Friday in the Lexington Herald-Leader.
  
Current faculty trustee Joe Peek said he only recently heard of the big-ticket proposal.
 
 "Why haven't we had a heads-up on this?" he asked.
  
UK's athletics association said it would fund $3.1 million of the upgrade with an internal loan and $3.15 million from private money. The loan would be reimbursed over a period of no more than five years at a floating rate of 1.64 percent, if the upgrade is approved by the board of trustees and other committees.
  
"Once again, when the university finds it needs money it is able to find it in some manner, shape or form. Given that it is the athletics program that is requesting essentially a match, this needs to be looked into very carefully," Political Science Professor Ernie Yanarella said.
  
UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the school found money for the loan in its working capital -- dollars used for daily operations.
 
 The Council on Postsecondary Education is expected to vote on the proposal at its April 28 meeting. The trustees discuss the issue on May 3.
  
The existing video boards, which were installed in July 1999, use Cathode Ray Tube technology which proves difficult to maintain, according to a project summary on the council's April 28 agenda. The boards "don't provide the kind of sophisticated viewing experience that fans have come to expect across the country," Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said in a written statement.
  
The two new boards would use Light-Emitting Diode technology, along with "ribbon boards" -- aimed at increasing ad revenue -- on the upper deck sidelines and suite corners. Barnhart said that the new boards will offer fans more access to statistics, scoring updates from games, video replays and closed captioning.
  
"As importantly, the boards will generate increased revenue through the sales and marketing of video advertising," he said.
  
In February, UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. extended Barnhart's contract to 2019, which he said was a courtesy to his successor. Barnhart's annual base salary was increased from $475,000 to $600,000.
  
A vote on the preferred candidate to succeed Todd is expected at the trustees' May 3 meeting.
  
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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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