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Commonwealth upgrade on the way

By: Steve Moss
By: Steve Moss

For several years, UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart has said upgrades to athletic facilities, like Commonwealth Stadium, are long overdue. Coming this fall, Kentucky fans could notice the first of several changes to the home of the football Wildcats, which was constructed in 1973.

For several years, UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart has said upgrades to athletic facilities, like Commonwealth Stadium, were long overdue. Coming this fall, Kentucky fans could notice the first of several changes to the home of the football Wildcats, which was constructed in 1973.

That's because the university wants to spend $6.25 million to upgrade the video boards and public address system in the stadium.  Barnhart has said football fans want a unique experience when attending games.  The new changes would include replacing the existing video screens in the end zones and adding ribbon video screens along the upper deck sidelines. 

Rumors have the school replacing the large video screens with high definition boards.

"The current video boards at Commonwealth Stadium are more than 10 years old and approaching the end of their useful life expectancy," Barnhart said in a statement released on Thursday. 

Barnhart goes on to say that parts and supplies for the current screens are difficult to purchase.

"New boards, with upgraded technology, will enhance the viewing experience for fans through the upgraded access to statistics, scoring updates from games, video replays and closed captioning, among other features," he added.

Barnhart expects that the new video boards would generate increased revenue through advertising.

Back in January, Barnhart told 27 SportsFirst that facilities upgrades were a priority within the athletics department.

"It's (Commonwealth Stadium) closing in on 40 years-old.  We've got to figure out what amenities our fans want, club seats and suits that we need.  Clearly, the scoreboard is a huge piece to us.  We'd like to get that fixed before next season," he said.

During the same interview, Barnhart said it would cost between $150-200 million to renovate the stadium.  He suggested that the school would upgrade the stadium in stages.

Included on his wish list is the multi-purpose recruiting room that Rich Brooks so desperately wanted.  Barnhart said the room would give the university an on-campus kitchen for training table purposes for UK athletes and recruits.

Barnhart said the room would cost $8 million to build.

The AD also told 27 SportsFirst that a new track would be constructed before next spring.   Currently, a 45-member committee is in place to research the feasibility of renovating Rupp Arena or building a new basketball arena.

Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.

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