Sunday, February 8, 2004

Why is arena Kentucky's priority?

Your voice: Russ Thomas

Every morning for the past year I have been bombarded with the bad fiscal news from Frankfort. There were some days I am sure that without those articles, my paper would have consisted of the comics and the classifieds.

Now we suddenly have, without a single dollar from any slot machine, $45 million to build a new arena for Northern Kentucky University. Did I sleep through the earthquake? Last time I was on campus the existing arena looked just fine. Why do we need to replace it?

Right after our area helped propel our new governor into the executive mansion, on a platform of fiscal responsibility, money for our local university magically appears. Am I the only one who thinks this is crazy?

I also hear the Commonwealth of Kentucky is preparing to build a replacement for the I-75 Brent Spence Bridge, at a cost of around three quarters of a billion dollars.

If the state does have this $45 million, wouldn't it be more fiscally responsible to spend these new found funds on the replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge?

But maybe this money is earmarked for the university, and we can't just reallocate funds from higher education to highways, now can we? What would that say about our priorities? Not that I consider a sports arena a requirement for a quality college education. In fact, I consider it more of a detriment than an asset, but I am probably in a minority.

So if we have to spend these funds on campus at NKU, how about building something they really need? How about a $45 million parking garage? The school could probably earn another $10 million by selling the naming rights. The Pontiac Parking Pavilion has a nice ring, doesn't it?

I vaguely remember when they built the campus back in the early 1970s; we were told it was to be a commuter school. The dorms didn't come along until 10 years later.

Logic should have dictated that some provision should be made for all the automobiles these commuter students would be driving, right? Wouldn't logic dictate at least a couple of levels of parking under each building? The whole campus looks like a parking garage anyway, who would have noticed?

So I guess what I'm asking is this: Friends and neighbors, those of you who at some point have had to negotiate the campus at NKU, where would you rather have your tax dollars spent? Parking or playgrounds?


Russ Thomas is a government employee and freelance writer who lives in Melbourne, Ky.


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