LEXINGTON, Ky. – John Calipari said he’s “ecstatic” over facilities improvements for Kentucky’s football, baseball, soccer and track teams, but also: “Now it’s our turn.”
On the heels of last week’s announcement of a new $49 million baseball stadium, shortly after the completion of a $126 million football stadium renovation and $45 million football training facility, Calipari wants some upgrades for the men’s basketball program. Specifically, the Joe Craft Center where the team with eight national championships practices.
The $30 million facility opened in January of 2007 and was a state-of-the-art building at the time. Several NBA players trained there during the NBA lockout in the summer of 2011 and raved about how nice it was. But …
“You guys know I’m always (thinking of) the bigger picture, what’s the next 10 years,” Calipari said Thursday. “This building is 10 years old and it’s time. Let’s go through and let’s make it more modern. 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 campus.”
He was careful to say he’s not jealous of the spending on UK’s other, less-prominent programs.
“I’m so happy for baseball, happy for football,” he said. “When they made a commitment to soccer, women’s soccer, what they’ve done for track, when you do those kind of investments … you’re doing it for the kids. I’m never going to (complain).”
But like any home, no matter how nice it is when you move in, Calipari thinks the Craft Center needs a fresh look.
“Ten years ago when this was built: unbelievable. And it’s still really good,” he said, but “we need to go back and say, ‘Now how do we update this?’ This is a well-built building.”
Always thinking of his good friends in the media, Calipari added that he has a new work area in mind for reporters, too.
“I was thinking out back by the garbage dump,” he said.
While Calipari offered few specifics on what he’d like to see done at Kentucky’s practice facility, he did note the football team’s new retina scanners that allow access to that facility.
“We’re getting them,” he said. “And it’s not because I’m trying to stay up with (football). Our guys lose those (key) fobs, so we gotta prop doors open. Anyone that wants to come in, there’s no locked doors here now.”
When might these improvements be happening? At a press conference detailing the new baseball stadium on Monday, athletic director Mitch Barnhart said of the Craft Center, “We’ve got to make sure we address that, and that’s coming pretty quickly.”