UK's Commonwealth Stadium could receive makeover, NKU gets renovations too

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Steve Beshear and legislative leaders are pushing a plan to authorize $363 million worth of construction projects at six of the state's public universities, including a makeover for the Kentucky Wildcats' Commonwealth Stadium.

The top selling points for the proposal, Beshear said, are that all of the projects will be paid for by the universities without any General Fund money and that they will create more than 5,000 construction jobs.

"These projects are not only an investment in our higher education communities; they also will have a direct and immediate stimulation for our Kentucky economy," he said.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers and Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said they expect the proposal to be approved by the full Legislature.

The biggest expenditures in the legislation, which hasn't yet been filed, would be $110 million to renovate Commonwealth Stadium, $100 million to construct a science building at UK that would be paid for partially from athletics revenue and $40 million to renovate the Gatton College of Business and Economics.

Northern Kentucky University would renovate the Albright Health Center at a cost of $45 million and purchase and renovate a residence hall for $12 million.

Western Kentucky University would build a $22 million Honors College and International Center. Murray State University would get a $9.9 million dormitory renovation, plus spend more than $5 million for various campus improvements, including a sprinkler system upgrade.

The University of Louisville would renovate the Student Activities Center for $9.6 million. And Morehead State University would undertake a $9.2 million renovation of the Mignon Hall dormitory.

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said the proposal would mark the first time at his school that a significant amount of athletics revenue would be used to help pay for an academic building. He said the athletics department will put up $65 million for the science building.

House Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, called the proposal "a critical investment in the future growth of these universities and for the state's economy."

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