Calipari puts arena discussion on back burner

Coach too busy now to wade into debate

jtipton@herald-leader.comJanuary 29, 2011 

UK coach John Calipari at the team's practice in Syracuse Wednesday March 24, 2010. Photo by Victoria Graff

Kentucky Coach John Calipari said Friday that he could support the idea of renovating Rupp Arena or building a new downtown arena. But he added a qualifier: Either option must befit college basketball's winningest program to gain his blessing.

"The University of Kentucky is the gold standard," he said. "Whether it's the (Wildcat) Lodge. Whether it's the practice facility. Whether it's academics. Whether it's compliance, how we travel or the arena we play in.

"... Is it the gold standard? That's what this program should be about in everything we do, or we shouldn't do it."

Calipari emphasized that he's been busy coaching the Kentucky team. So he hasn't been keeping up with the renovate-or-rebuild debate, which new Lexington Mayor Jim Gray reignited earlier this week by announcing that the city would make renovation of Rupp Arena the first option to consider.

Gray consulted with Jim Host, who heads the Louisville Arena Authority. Host recommended renovation because he considered Rupp Arena a sporting landmark like Wrigley Field or Fenway Park.

When asked whether he bought that analogy, Calipari said he was unaware of Host's comments. The UK coach did acknowledge being approached for an opinion.

"I'm coaching basketball," Calipari said. "I'm not involved in that stuff right now. I'm coaching this team.

"If it was June and I had time to go have lunch with somebody, I would. But I don't have time for any of that stuff right now."

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