Luxuriating in the suite life

If your outrage-o-meter about the obscene, money-drenched profit factory that passes for amateur college athletics hasn't already blown a breaker, consider this news item from The Courier-Journal in Louisville.

On the list of Kentucky's well-off, connected and pampered who paid $80,000-plus for luxury boxes at Louisville's sparkling new KFC Yum! Arena are two non-profit groups: Dismas Charities, Inc., which runs corrections halfway houses, and the Kentucky Employers Safety Association, which sells workers compensation insurance.

Dismas, whose CEO, Ray Weis, earns upwards of $600,000 annually, is funded entirely by state and federal tax money. (Try not to go Cardinal red the next time you look at the withholding on your paycheck.)

In a candid bit of understatement, Weis allowed that the $92,000 spent for the 20-seat luxury box "is a lot of money."

How many more people trying to get a start on a new life could have been helped instead?

KESA spokeswoman Melinda Ellingsworth explained the expense by noting the suite would allow the group to do more one-on-one marketing to independent insurance agents and employers.

No argument there. The commonwealth doubtless has plenty of insurance agents willing to eat and drink free at courtside.

Whether the ratepayers appreciate paying for that extra bourbon is another matter.

Of course, taxpayers, who mostly watch college hoops from their living rooms, have long subsidized these luxurious living-rooms-within-arenas, since the businesses who entertain on game nights write the cost off as entertainment, development, recruitment, whatever.

And while U of L may currently have the upper hand in the edifice complex wars, Big Blue fans needn't be green with envy for long.

Soon enough, plans already in the works for a new Rupp Arena will be unveiled, with luxury suite revenues as the major driving force.

Live it up, high rollers. Don't worry about having to rub elbows with the hoi-polloi. We'll be enjoying the games from home, where at least the beer is cheap.