Rupp’s fate affects UK, Lexington


The UK cheerleaders make a pyramid during a time-out during the men’s basketball game against Clarion at Rupp Arena on Friday, Nov. 6, 2009. The Wildcats won 117-52 over the Golden Eagles. Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt

Editorial by Kernel Staff. E-mail [email protected].

Lexington has a decision to make: out with the old and in with the new, or add on to what’s already there.

According to a Jan. 31 Kernel article, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is considering the possibility of renovating and redesigning Rupp Arena and the Lexington Convention Center. Gray didn’t rule out the option of building a new arena, the article said.

“As the primary tenant of Rupp Arena, the university is very interested in being a part of the planning process,” UK President Lee Todd Jr. said. “We would encourage every idea to be considered, including the concept of a new arena.”

That’s right: Todd and Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart favor either building an entirely new arena downtown or one near or on UK’s campus.

Gray held a conference Jan. 25 to announce his plans to conduct a study to look into renovation feasibility.

The proposal document, obtained from the Lexington Fayette Urban-County Government website, said that should renovating be the choice, $45 million would be required improvements and $30 million would be requested from the state.

The current Rupp Arena can seat more than 23,000 people; the proposed renovations would take away about 4,000 seats from season ticket holders. The space would be reallocated to luxury suites and meeting rooms, meant to compete with the new Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.

Since the number of seats would be decreased, it would cost Lexington more money in the long run because fewer fans could attend the games and less tickets could be sold.

UK students most likely would benefit more from a new Rupp, but unless city and university officials can agree, the arena’s fate will remain unknown.

Considering the arena has endured since the 1970s, this decision has several decades of history riding on it. Lexington and UK will see the impact for decades to come.