New Construction

WKU Regents Approve Multiple Construction Projects

During a special budget meeting last week, the Western Kentucky University Board of Regents unanimously approved four major construction projects for its campus in Bowling Green, Ky. The board also approved a fiscal year 2023 budget of $383.4 million, almost an $8-million increase over last year’s budget, according to a university news release.

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the institution,” said WKU President Timothy Caboni. “…We have the most beautiful campus…in the Commonwealth, and we’re going to continue to maintain that. This is the first time…we’re not fighting budget reductions and actually have resources available to invest.”

The approved projects include a new indoor practice facility for WKU athletics ($35 million); renovations to the football stadium’s press box ($6 million); preservation and renovations to the historic Henry Hardin Cherry Hall, built in 1937 ($30 million); and a new, state-funded building for the Gordon Ford College of Business ($74.4 million).

Caboni said that each of the projects funded by WKU can be done without raising student tuition and fees and without significantly affecting the annual amount that the school pays on its debt. The field house and press box will be funded by issuing up to $50 million in bonds and refinancing existing debt. The Cherry Hall renovations will be funded through money set aside by the Kentucky General Assembly for “asset preservation” on campus, according to local news.

The new indoor practice facility will be called the Hilltopper Fieldhouse and will play home to 16 different sports. It will also provide space for the university’s esports teams, intramural sports, the WKU Forensics team and marching band. Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2023 and last 15–18 months.

The press box was originally built in 1968 and will see renovations related to ADA compliance and ease of use for those with mobility issues. Construction will begin after the 2023 football season and is anticipated to be complete by the beginning of the 2024 football season.

Cherry Hall will see a full evaluation and renovation intended to preserve the building for the next 30–50 years, said Bryan Russell, chief facilities officer with WKU. The state will fund about 85% of the project, while the university will fund the remaining 15%.

Finally, the new Gordon Ford College of Business facility is being designed by Gensler Architects. Construction will begin in July 2023, and the goal is to have it open to students in time for the 2025 semester, said Russell.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].