Louisiana ranks near the bottom among all U.S. states when it comes to poverty, poor education, and healthcare coverage. The list of issues that its elected officials need to focus on requires a lot of work and a whole lot of money.
However, Louisiana Republicans decided to use the final moments of their spring session to approve LSU women’s basketball head coach Kim Mulkey’s wish for millions of dollars in funding for sports arena renovations.
The Republican-run state legislature approved $101 million that will go to a foundation that supports LSU athletics and is directly earmarked to renovate the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC), which hosts the women’s basketball team’s home games.
Mulkey’s Tigers won the 2023 national title and appear to have the team in line to compete for another championship this upcoming season. She personally made a request for funding and the need to renovate the venue.
“It’s time,” Mulkey declared. “That thing’s 48 years old. It’s dangerous in there. Don’t grab a rail without holding onto somebody.”
The move garnered some negative reactions from Democrats in the legislature and even at LSU.
“Such a sluicing of funds into a structure that serves primarily as a basketball court demonstrates that the leaders of our state grant a higher priority to chasing balls up and down a wooden court than to the improvement of its citizens,” former LSU faculty senate president Kevin Cope said.
LSU professor Robert Mann told reporters that school officials and advocates spent years pleading for new library funding. Lawmakers allotted a few million in project planning for that but nothing compared to the sports arena funding.
“If that disgraceful episode doesn’t convince people that our state’s priorities are out of whack, I don’t know what will,” Mann told reporters.