Kentucky investing in $2.9 million locker room upgrade at Rupp Arena

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They call it the “recruiting arms race,” and not without good reason.

Kentucky, pushing toward a national title and waiting for a rematch with No. 4 Indiana on Friday, is cutting a check Cold War-style, upgrading the team’s locker room and training facility for $2.9 million, reports the Sporting News.

Among other things, the move will increase the size of the Wildcats’ locker room, expand the training room, and add a dining area for players.

It was supposed to be part of a larger $300 million renovation of Rupp Arena by the city of Lexington, but what John Calipari wants, John Calipari gets, so he went out and did it himself to speed up the timeline.

Though the larger project was not slated to begin until 2014, Calipari made this smaller upgrade a priority.

Through private donors, the Kentucky coach raised $2.5 million and construction will begin in May. It could reportedly be finished by the beginning of the 2012-13 season. Lexington is spotting UK for the other $400,000.

Major college basketball is no stranger to massive facility upgrades.

Have you ever seen the walk-through video of Oklahoma State’s brand new digs in Stillwater? Take a look at it here.

The Cowboy locker room reportedly cost $4 million, with most of it likely coming from energy mogul T. Boone Pickens, a large supporter of the program.

Welcome to the Brave New World of basketball recruiting. It’s not just about a coaching staff or playing time or the location of the campus that sways a blue-chipper’s decision. Programs are racing to build Space Age coliseums that are emblematic of their power and standing.

Kentucky is currently in the hunt for Nerlens Noel, the top player in the Class of 2012. Ya think Coach Cal has brought up this little project more than once in their discussions?

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_