Wildcat Coal Lodge to get smaller, more expensive

Bids 40% higher than expected

ctruman@herald-leader.comDecember 8, 2010 

Wildcat Coal Lodge was fiercely debated because of its name, which links the housing of University of Kentucky student athletes with the coal industry.

Now, it's the projected cost that's thwarting UK as it tries to build the new dormitory to house members of the men's basketball team.

The UK trustees were told Tuesday bids for construction of the lodge, which will also house some non-athlete students, came in 40 percent higher than the university had planned.

The building of a new lodge was announced last year after 21 private donors pledged to give UK the projected $7 million for a new dorm to replace the Joe B. Hall Wildcat Lodge. It was to be renamed Wildcat Coal Lodge because Joe Craft, head of Alliance Coal, put together the group of donors.

UK decided to reduce the size of the lodge from 24,000 to 20,000 square feet and from 36 to 32 beds. The cost went up $1 million anyway, according to Bob Wiseman, UK's vice president for facilities management, to $8 million. A recent anonymous private donor made up the difference, he said.

UK hopes to unveil the new dormitory in spring 2012.

The building will include a controlled main entryway, with combination living/bedroom spaces, a common space, dining and gaming rooms and a conference room.

The lodge's association with coal had repercussions for UK even before its redesign. Kentucky writer Wendell Berry withdrew many of his personal papers from the UK archives to protest the name of the lodge.

Berry said in a Dec. 20, 2009, letter the decision to name a new dorm for UK basketball players the Wildcat Coal Lodge "puts an end" to his association with the university.

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