By Eva McEnrue
Talks have begun in Lexington on the possible renovation of Rupp Arena.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray announced a study to determine the possibility of renovating and redesigning Rupp Arena and the Lexington Convention Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25.
This announcement comes nearly four months after the University of Louisville opened its new basketball arena, the KFC Yum! Center.
Gray will be appointing a group to study feasible developments of the city’s convention center, which includes Rupp Arena, used by the UK men’s basketball team, as well as for hotel and retail space.
The group will be assembled in the next two weeks and will be financed using only private funding, Gray’s spokeswoman Susan Straub said.
“UK is pleased Gray is stepping up on an issue that is so important to the community and the university,” UK Public Relations Director Jay Blanton said. “The convention center is an important piece of downtown, providing commerce, conventions and basketball. The decision for future renovations is critical to the community and the UK basketball institution.”
Gray only mentioned the options of renovation and redesign, but he did not specifically rule out building a new arena.
“He is waiting for recommendations from the study group to determine the possibility for renovations, complete redesign and total renovation, and which is the best option,” Straub said.
The group will also examine the issue of better integrating the convention center with the rest of downtown Lexington. Members of the group have not been released yet, but it will include private businesses.
Gray has been in communication with the UK and is interested in involving the university in the study, Straub said.
“We appreciate Mayor Gray’s interest in moving the Lexington Center to a new phase in the life of this facility,” UK President Lee Todd said. “As the primary tenant of Rupp Arena, the university is very interested in being a part of the planning process. We would encourage every idea to be considered, including the concept of a new arena.”