UK football: Plans for $45 million training facility to be unveiled Friday

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJanuary 28, 2014 

Cornerback Cartier Rice sprinted for scouts during UK's annual Pro Day for graduating football seniors held in the Nutter Field House on the UK campus in Lexington Ky., Thursday, March 21, 2013. The players will had the opportunity to go through the 40-yard dash, pro shuttle, vertical jump and additional skills in front of NFL officials and scouts. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff


A simple agenda item helps bring into focus Kentucky's full football facilities plan.

As protocol, the school released its regular agenda for the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday and one of the items up for vote is a brand-new, privately funded $45 million football training facility.

The two-story building and practice fields with an adjoining drill area will be attached to the existing Nutter Field House and coupled with the already planned $110 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium.

In privately funded projects like this one, the athletics department is required to have 50 percent of the cash on hand or provide signed commitments from the donors to bring it before the board, University spokesman Jay Blanton said.

UK already has at least that amount already raised for this project, Blanton said, but he did not divulge whether that money has been secured from a single donor or multiple donors.

Some of those answers likely will come on Friday, when UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart presents the proposal to the university athletics committee and the trustees.

Officials hinted in December that there might be more construction to come when they formally unveiled a stadium project that didn't include renovations to the Nutter Training Facility as initially planned.

"There will be things we come back to and continue to work on in terms of plans for other facilities," Barnhart said after UK's grand news conference to unveil the updated Commonwealth Stadium, which will have fewer seats.

In late November, UK Coach Mark Stoops was asked how much of a hand he had in the stadium renovation plans and he nearly tipped UK's hand on the plans.

"The stadium, I've got too much on my plate to get involved with all that now," he said. "Hopefully we can do some other additions as we move forward that I'll be very involved with."

The new project, which is called "a comprehensive complex to support the entire football operation including Commonwealth Stadium and the Nutter Field House," has a wide-ranging list of amenities.

They include: administrative offices, team meeting areas, training areas, high performance and weight room space, a hydrotherapy room, new locker rooms and lounge facilities, an academic lounge and student study area.

The new practice fields will sit on the back end of Nutter and extend toward Alumni Drive, UK athletics spokesman Dewayne Peevy explained on Tuesday night.

He promised that more details will be revealed with the full plan on Friday.

UK's current training center, located on south campus near the baseball stadium, was built for $5.7 million in 1987, according to UK's athletics website. The facility is named for Ervin Nutter, a UK alum, who donated $1 million to start the fund-raising campaign.

Other significant contributions came from horseman Seth Hancock, who donated $300,000 and played a key role in raising $2.7 million from private donors.

Nutter was expanded in 2002 after a $1.6 million donation from Central Kentucky businessman Paul Orberson. New surfaces on the practice fields were added in 2005.

For comparison's sake, the Joe Craft Center, which houses athletics offices and the basketball training facilities, was finished in 2007 and cost about $30 million.

If the funding and plan for the new football facility are approved by the board on Friday, they will be submitted to the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee for authorization in February.

The plans also note that the current Nutter Training Center on south campus near the baseball stadium will be repurposed to serve UK athletes in other sports.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog:

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