The Joe B. Hall Wildcat Lodge (aka “old Wildcat Lodge” or “Wildcat Lodge” depending on when you went to UK) was demolished last Monday. When I first heard the news it really saddened me to hear that they were tearing down a building so many legends had lived in to build a new dorm. I get that UK needs it, but it’s still sad and a piece of UK history none-the-less.
Wildcat Lodge was built in 1978 and every men’s basketball player since has lived there for their time at UK. The Lodge housed half of Kentucky’s national championship teams under four different coaches. Legends like Rex Chapman, Ron Mercer, Tayshaun Prince, Derek Anderson, Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Patrick Patterson, Jodie Meeks, Anthony Davis, John Wall, Keith Bogans, Sam Bowie, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have all lived in that building.
I never had the chance to see the inside of old Wildcat Lodge but if you’re curious as to what it looked like, here’s Chuck Hayes giving a tour:
I have gotten a tour of the new Wildcat Coal Lodge from John Calipari himself and I can say that the facilities are much nicer than the old one. They have extra tall sinks and showers to accommodate the players, HUGE chairs in the living room, all the national championship trophies when you walk in, a mural of every Cat in the NBA for “motivation”, and they have their own rooms complete with Tempurpedic mattresses. No doubt, the new place is awesome but the old one being gone still makes me sad. I think all around UK, or at least for the die-hards the consensus is basically the same.
One student said, “I think they ruined a piece of history. The lodge has been up for years and so many legends have been through there. It served as a landmark for UK basketball and it’s a shame they tore it down instead of making it into a museum or something else to preserve it.”
I had never really thought of making it into a museum but that would have been awesome for the BBN.
Another student also had really good point, “It’s a shame it had to be torn down, it was home to many past UK basketball legends and holds a historical value. It also represents more of the new era, the John Calipari era of Kentucky teams now though.”
Former Cat and member of the ’96 championship team Walter McCarty lived in the Wildcat Lodge from 1993-96 said he was saddened by the news of the Lodge being torn down. “It was a great living place for all the great teams to not only bond and develop chemistry, but become a family. I have so many wonderful memories of that building that will always remain close and be with me forever.”
McCarty was a coach at the John Calipari Pro Basketball Fantasy Camp back in August and had a chance to visit the new Wildcat Lodge while he was in Lexington.
“The new place is great, but I’m old school, the (Joe B. Hall Wildcat) Lodge will always be my Wildcat home.” McCarty said.
I would have loved to see them use the parking lot next to old Lodge for a dorm, and renovate the place and give it to another team like the women’s basketball team, personally.
I remember last season when I would walk back from Rupp after a game you would see fans waiting outside the Lodge to greet the players and maybe get an autograph. The new lodge is now across the street and I live across from it. You don’t see the fans out there as much, aside from Big Blue Madness. It seems to have changed the atmosphere. All in all, I am sad to see the old lodge go but I love getting to watch the program grow, change and evolve.