John Clay's notes: Rupp will need upgrades, but now is not the time

jclay@herald-leader.comJune 18, 2014 

Designs released Feb. 10 show the proposed renovations of Rupp Arena and the Lexington Convention Center.

NBBJ+EOP

Random notes:

Having lost the support of Rupp Arena's biggest customer, i.e., the University of Kentucky, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray had little choice other than Wednesday's announced suspension of the $351 million renovation project.

Despite reports of a "positive" meeting last week between the two sides, the sit-down didn't produce the necessary agreement needed to push the project forward. UK has pulled its pledge to give the project $10.7 million over 30 years. Gray couldn't talk the school into reconsidering.

In other words, Eli Capilouto isn't budging. The UK president is dedicated to his worthy goal of improving the university's campus and infrastructure. Renovating an off-campus basketball arena will have to wait. Priorities rule.

Truth be told, there just isn't enough public support for a Rupp re-do. Blame that on UK's cold shoulder. Blame that on the $351 million price tag. Blame that on regions of the state with bad roads and high unemployment that don't want their tax dollars funding a so-called rebirth of a downtown miles and miles away.

Rupp will have to be addressed at some point, no doubt. Timing is everything, however, and now is not the time.

"We'll have to adjust and adapt," said Gray in Wednesday's statement.

■ If you're watching the World Cup, you are not alone. ESPN reports Monday's U.S.-Ghana match drew a 7.0 overnight rating and 11.09 million viewers, a record for soccer on the World Wide Leader.

Compare that to the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Sunday on NBC. With Martin Kaymer running away with the tournament, the overnight rating was an abysmal 3.3, less than half the World Cup number for the U.S. match.

It should be noted that the final round of the Masters back in April drew just a 7.8, which was barely above the World Cup number.

And with the U.S. playing Portugal scheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m. — not last Monday's coming-home-from-work 6 p.m. — ESPN's TV numbers should climb even higher.

■ Speaking of golf, no doubt the good folks at Valhalla hope Tiger Woods is back on the tour in time for the PGA Championship in Louisville in August.

■ It has been fun following some of the tweets from the O'Bannon vs. the NCAA trial, which completed its eighth day on Wednesday.

A few fun facts from the testimony:

Coaching salaries have increased 650 percent from 1985 to 2010.

On average, football players spend 43.3 hours per week on football during the season. (So much for the 20-hour rule.)

Former NCAA president Myles Brand once wrote in an e-mail about the use of athletes' names and likenesses, "We don't want a student-athlete holding a phone or a bag of chips."

The fun is actually just beginning. Current NCAA President Mark Emmert is scheduled to take the stand on Thursday.

■ Did you see where former Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin caused a stir by attending the Commodores' first game in the College World Series on Saturday?

Some Vandy fans didn't like the fact the now Penn State coach was sitting in the Commodores cheering section. Never mind that he was the guest of Vandy baseball coach Tim Corbin.

■ Heading into Wednesday night's game at Pittsburgh, the Reds were 5-2 since Joey Votto returned from the disabled list on June 10.

Votto had at least one hit and in all seven games and had seven RBI over those seven games.

Billy Hamilton has also been a big help, going 9-for-18 with four stolen bases over his last four games.

■ Food for thought: Phil Steele, author of the definitive Phil Steele College Football Yearbook, has devised a formula ranking the 128 FBS teams in terms of experience.

Kentucky ranks No. 56 on Steele's list.

Only two of UK's 2014 FBS opponents rank higher. Mississippi State is No. 5 and South Carolina is No. 22.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com.

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