Kentucky Sports

Updates coming soon to Memorial Coliseum. See what they are and how fans might be affected.

The University of Kentucky is adding a new video and scoreboard over the front entrance of Memorial Coliseum and putting in a ribbon board in the other end zone starting this season, it told season ticket holders in an email on Monday.
The University of Kentucky is adding a new video and scoreboard over the front entrance of Memorial Coliseum and putting in a ribbon board in the other end zone starting this season, it told season ticket holders in an email on Monday. aslitz@herald-leader.com

While Kentucky’s athletic department mulls potential long-term fixes for an aging campus icon, it is going ahead with some upgrades in the near future.

Those updates — an, expansive video board atop the front entrance and a full-feature ribbon board on the north end of Memorial Coliseum — were included in an email about season ticket renewals for women’s basketball.

“These upgrades are the first steps in our plans to enhance the fan experience in Memorial Coliseum,” UK told season ticket holders, noting that the upgrades could include obstructed views for several sections of the coliseum.

A graphic in the email shows that at least 13 sections of Memorial Coliseum will have at least partially obstructed views of the new video board, which will replace a current video board in the other end zone over the mezzanine.

UK is offering the option to change seats for affected season ticket holders.

An athletics spokesman did not know the exact number of season ticket holders who would be affected by the changes.

The video and ribbon boards are “an instant impact thing we feel like we can do to help improve the fan experience,” explained UK’s director of strategic communications, Guy Ramsey.

The championship banners that hang on that wall now will be moved to either side of the new video board.

A feasibility study of the 68-year-old venue had a hefty price tag for updates and upgrades for the historic facility, which is home to women’s basketball, volleyball and gymnastics.

Some of the biggest-ticket items from the study, which the Herald-Leader obtained via an open records request, include more than $3 million for heating and air conditioning upgrades, and nearly $2.2 million for an enclosed club area in the north end zone where a mezzanine and inaccessible bleachers now sit.

Other items like modernizing the restrooms and replacing the yellow, stain-covered ceiling tiles also probably will cost more than $1 million each, according to the assessment done in 2017 by Sherman, Carter, Barnhart Architects and Staggs Fisher Consulting Engineers, Inc.

In an interview with the Herald-Leader this summer, UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart noted that updates to the audio and visual components were top priorities.

The state legislature initially had granted the university approval to spend up to $8 million on Memorial Coliseum renovations if and when athletics raises the money.

But the most recently passed budget increased the authorization total to $30 million. That kind of change is common as the scope of construction projects change, UK spokesman Jay Blanton said in May.

LaShae Halsel, who will be a senior this season on the University of Kentucky women's basketball team, received a pleasant surprise from head coach Matthew Mitchell on Monday afternoon.

The email to season ticket holders also noted that three women’s basketball home games will be played in Rupp Arena again this season, noting that opponents and dates have not been set yet.

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