Politicians make bi-partisanship work for universities across Kentucky

American Football on FieldEven in a time of economic decline, state lawmakers from both parties are coming together to grant state universities the ability to start more than $363 million dollars’ worth of building projects. The largest of the projects include more than $110 million dollars to expand the University of Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium.

The stadium will receive a face-lift to its concession stands, restrooms and player designated areas. As with many stadium remodels, there will be an expansion and renovation to the private suites, which has the ability to generate long term increases in stadium revenue.

The Kentucky General Fund supporting the public universities has seen a 15% decline in the past six years. But, all the planned projects won’t need a penny from the fund. Even a $100 million dollar academic building at University of Kentucky campus will be entirely paid for by existing student fees, athletics department income and private contributions.

This will be the first time in Kentucky history that a university athletics department will be funding academics. University of Kentucky is one of the few athletics departments across the country that generate a net profit.

Other projects across the state will include renovations to academic buildings, activity centers, student housing areas and safety systems such as fire detection and sprinkler systems. Construction is planned for fall of 2013 once state legislation has passed.

“It’s absolutely refreshing to begin a legislative session having already arrived at a consensus, a bipartisan consensus, on such an important issue,” said Governor Steve Beshear.