photo – kykernel.com
How many times have we heard it from fans of Lexghanistan’s Finest that the Yum! Center will go bankrupt, it’s not bringing in the money it was projected to, blah, blah, blah. Well, it seems that if UK’s barn, er, arena is to see the renovation realized, it will come from – in part – funds diverted from coal producing counties. Originally, the funds to were to go to the parts of the state where coal is produced to help spur economic development projects in place of the mineral that is quickly running out. The scathing article from forwardthinking.org stated that coal production in eastern Kentucky has declined 53% since 2000, thus the planned economic assistance. Politics in this state are so bizarre and backwards you often have to catch your breath from shaking your head in disgust for so long. While those of us living in Louisville have always known that our city is constantly looked down upon by the rest of the state, this type of thing isn’t surprising. This time however, it’s at the expense of BBN’s most loyal supporters.
The reality is that eastern Kentucky’s coal counties need far more than the $2.5 million the state is taking to help renovate Rupp Arena. They need local and state politicians who are willing to have a frank conversation about their future and coal’s declining role in it. They need dedicated investments and smarter programs that will help redevelop and prepare the region for that future. They need a promise that there will be a future, one that looks differently than the one that has taken shape since coal employment there began declining three decades ago. They’ll never get any of that, though, with leaders who are more committed to both Kentucky’s coal industry and Kentucky basketball than they are to Kentucky’s people.