SBD/June 24, 2014/Facilities

Univ. Of Kentucky AD Says JMI Deal Not Related To Rupp Arena Renovation

UK's deal with JMI Sports includes money for a new baseball facility
With a proposed redesign of Rupp Arena "on indefinite hold," the Univ. of Kentucky's announcement of a lucrative multimedia rights deal with JMI that "includes money for a baseball stadium raised fresh questions Monday about the possibility of an on-campus basketball arena," according to a front-page piece by Jennifer Smith of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. UK AD Mitch Barnhart said, "I don't want to tie these two things together. Everybody's gonna mistakenly look at this deal today and say, 'Oh, is this taking you down a different path with basketball and the arena?' And this is not what today's about. Today is about the foundation for the program for years to come." Still, Barnhart said he was pleased the university and city were taking a step back from the proposed Rupp project to "reassess where we are and figure out what the next best thing to do is." In addition to sports marketing, JMI "specializes in sports facilities, including feasibility studies, financing, design and construction management." The company's multimedia rights deal with UK is "expected to help move along several projects on UK's wish list." Barnhart "confirmed that UK was in the 'design' phase for a new football practice facility, which is expected to be built near Commonwealth Stadium." Meanwhile, other "facilities face lifts discussed in UK's request for contracts that led to the JMI deal include a desire for 'creative solutions' to fund supplemental digital signage and a public wireless Internet system at Commonwealth Stadium, a new video board at Memorial Coliseum, and renovations for video control rooms at both venues" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 6/24). Barnhart said, "Those other things take care of themselves over time. We'll figure that out. We'll work our way through those pieces (but) this is about multimedia rights, and people don't need to read more into it than that" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 6/24).

SHOW ME THE MONEY: In Kentucky, John Clay writes yesterday's "financial futures news is really about money and money and more money," as it "brings possibilities." Barnhart, on having a new UK ballpark completed in three years: "I don't know, I hope so." Clay writes there will be the "possibility of selling naming rights to athletic facilities, something the traditionalist in Barnhart may question, but the realist knows as prudent for athletic departments searching for new revenue streams." Barnhart: "The end game for us, (is to) keep our programs moving in the direction we've got them going" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 6/24).
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