What Shall Be The Fate Of Rupp Arena

Posted by jstevrtc on August 25th, 2011

Make your pilgrimage now, Kentucky fans, and take as many photos as you can, for the Rupp Arena you have worshiped for so long is on borrowed time.

An article from Tuesday’s Lexington Herald-Leader by Beverly Fortune and Jerry Tipton has us thinking that it’s merely a question of time, now, and which model to follow. Do the powers that be in the Bluegrass go the Fenway Park route and make piecemeal renovations over several years to the existing structure in downtown Lexington, or do they adopt the Yankee Stadium philosophy and build a brand new church arena elsewhere? Among UK backers, a discussion on this matter can get every bit as heated as one between Red Sox and Yankees fans about which group has the right to claim moral ascendancy.

Renovate the Old Or Start Afresh? Rupp In Its Current Form (image: uky.edu)

Fenway might call itself the oldest sports venue used by a sports franchise in the United States, but it’s undergone an almost yearly series of alterations since 1999 to bring up to speed everything from the sod to the seats to the scoreboards. Heck, there’s even a party deck. Most importantly, the renovations have been so well done that, even though this isn’t your grandfather’s Fenway Park, Boston officials say that the place has another 60 years of life in it and you can forget any plans for a replacement. Yankee Stadium, as we know, received a different treatment; the one built in 1923 hosted its inhabitants for the last time in 2008 and was demolished in 2010, a year after the Yanks had moved into a brand new glittering jewel of a stadium called…Yankee Stadium. Aside from a tendency for balls hit to right field to carry a little longer than they did in the old park (this happened even when the Yankee pitching situation was more stable), it opened to raves, not to mention a championship in its first year.

So what fate, then, for old Rupp Arena? If it can be updated in its current location, should it be? Or is it time for a brand new facility?

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Morning Five: 08.20.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 20th, 2010

  1. Looking for a kid to root for in two years (after a redshirt year)? Look no further than Jimmy McDonnell, now possessive of a spankin’ new basketball scholarship at Temple. Mike DeCourcy has a great summary of a young man who wasn’t even a college hoops prospect of any kind early in his high school hoops career, but became one through hard work and the help of a couple of coaches who saw something in him. He sounds like one of those first-to-arrive, last-to-leave kinds of players to us, and that’s something we can always get behind.
  2. It would be tough to root against Deandre Daniels, too, a top prospect in the 2011 class (ESPNU #28Rivals #10Scout #8 PF) who might reclassify into the 2010 class within the next 24 hours. Daniels missed a lot of school two years ago to help care for a grandfather stricken with cancer, got moved to the 2011 class, but has caught up with his original 2010 class through night classes and summer school. After decommitting from Texas for 2011, he’s got several scholly offers for this season, and Kentucky appears to have a head in front, which should surprise nobody anymore.
  3. Kansas lost a couple of players on Wednesday when C.J. Henry and Chase Buford both decided to put Lawrence in their rearview mirrors.  Buford averaged about two minutes a game over 11 appearances and decided that he wants his senior year of college to be that of a regular student. Henry, as you may recall, was a first-round draft pick of the Yankees back in 2005, received a $1.6 million bonus and had his tuition paid by the Yanks at Memphis. When brother Xavier committed to Kansas and John Calipari left for Kentucky, C.J. was released from his LOI and enrolled as a Jayhawk, redshirting his freshman year.  He’s out of baseball, and after averaging five minutes a game over 15 games last season for KU, he’s looking to continue his basketball career elsewhere.
  4. Jay Vincent, a former teammate of Magic’s on the ’79 Michigan State championship team and a nine-year NBA veteran, was indicted yesterday in an online employment scam. He and a partner were pinched for allegedly fronting a company that prepared people to inspect bank-foreclosed homes, asking applicants for money in advance for liability insurance and background checks. Turns out, no policies were bought, and no background checks were performed. The total take? Close to $2 million.
  5. After having jerseys retired in three sports in high school, Drew Shiller didn’t exactly see a college career filled with hip surgeries and long stretches on crutches and in physical therapy/rehab. After starting at San Francisco, he transferred to Stanford, but always felt limited because of his surgeries. He stuck with it, though, and in the process made two Pac-10 all-academic teams and just took his master’s degree from Stanford. Nice short profile by the San Jose Mercury News.
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Duke Wins At Hoops On Court, Spending Off Court

Posted by jstevrtc on July 2nd, 2010

In this age of shrinking cereal boxes and contracting newspapers — our local paper is now the size of a DVD box, it seems — we read with wide eyes the three-part series on expenditures in college athletics by AOL Fanhouse’s Brett McMurphy, especially the third offering which detailed how much money Duke spends on men’s basketball and how it compares to the rest of the college basketball world (there are links there to the first two in the series, as well).  According to McMurphy’s statistics, which come from the US Department of Education, Duke wasn’t just the top spender on men’s basketball during the 2008-09 season — they spent more money on men’s hoops than 22 programs in BCS conferences spent on football.  The men’s basketball budget at Duke for that season totalled $13.87 million, with Marquette — which doesn’t have a football program — coming next at $10.3 million.  If there’s some chance that you think that such spending doesn’t necessarily translate to success on the court, consider that ten of the 12 biggest spenders on men’s basketball have been to a Final Four since 2003.  There’s a wealth (pun intended) of great stuff in the entire series of articles, not just in the third part linked above; we could pore over those revenue, expenditure, and money-based win/loss tables at the end of each installment for hours, and we suggest you check out all three articles for yourself.  As we read, though, we kept wondering about Duke’s opponent in March’s title game, the Butler Bulldogs.  More on that in a second.

Duke -- your champs in basketball, and spending on basketball.

When people talk about spending disparities in sports, the consensus favorite example is to compare the New York Yankees‘ payroll to…well, anybody.  According to The Biz of Baseball, at the start of the season, the Yanks had the highest payroll of any MLB team — no surprise there — with a total layout of $206,333,389.  Even though most people assume it’s the Royals, the team with the smallest payroll on Opening Day of 2010 was the Pittsburgh Pirates, who shell out $34,943,000.  This results in a Yankees-to-Pirates spending ratio of just under 6-to-1.

According to Basketball State (which is a college basketball stat nerd’s paradise), the exact expenditure for men’s basketball at Duke for 2009 was $13,873,859.  The expenses for Butler’s men’s basketball team totalled $1,729,754.  This reveals a Duke-to-Butler expenditure ratio of slightly over 8-to-1.  Understandably, the eyes go right to the amount that Duke spends, but we feel that 8-to-1 ratio is the real newsmaker.  We’re certainly not taking anything away from Duke’s title or how deserving they were of it, but is there any sane person out there who would argue that Duke was eight times as skilled or deserving of that title than Butler?  An 8-to-1 spending ratio is just a ridiculous figure, considering how close the Bulldogs were to winning the title last season, and it truly underscores the magnitude of how much they achieved. If you look at the charts from Mr. McMurphy’s third article in his series, you’ll notice that Butler doesn’t even appear on the top 20 list in terms of men’s hoops expenditures of non-BCS schools.  In fact, not a single Horizon League team shows up there.  “Cinderella” is a word that gets tossed around too much during NCAA Tournament time, but it certainly applies to Butler’s run — and near-victory — in the championship game a few months ago.

So, the next time you hear someone talk about spending disparities in sports while making a big market-vs-small market argument, let them roll out their Yankees-Royals or (if they’re particularly well-informed) Yankees-Pirates stats.  You can then counter with the fact that, as wide as that gulf is, Duke’s spending ratio over the team that gave them all they could handle in the championship game was 33% larger than the biggest ratio that the Yankees enjoy over anyone.  In that light, Butler’s exploits during the 2010 NCAA Tournament are even more remarkable than previously thought.  Also makes you wonder what the Padres can do this year, since they’re next-to-last in terms of MLB payroll and currently sit first in the NL West…

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