Governor, Mayor reveal design of reinvented Rupp
LEXINGTON, Ky – Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray revealed a design Monday for a reinvented Rupp Arena, state of the art and better than new.
“This energetic and dynamic design for one of Lexington’s signature facilities is an exciting development for this region,” said Gov. Beshear, who included $65 million for Rupp in the budget plan he sent to the Kentucky General Kentucky Assembly three weeks ago. “Renovating the arena and upgrading the surrounding properties will have a strong effect on the entire city.”
Gray agreed. “At its heart, this is an economic development project. It’s about long-term economic impact, jobs for the long haul. Jobs created through elevating, amplifying, lifting-up and building our brands.”
The city has been working on the plans for Rupp and a new convention center for three years, Gray said. “A reinvented Rupp is still about history and pride and passion and tradition. It’s also about a better tomorrow — a better fan experience inside and outside the arena. Access to arts and entertainment. A Rupp that is part of the city rather than apart from the city.”
Public input has been part of the project since the very beginning. The decision to renovate Rupp rather than build a new arena came from a 50-member Citizens Task Force.
“Our Citizens Task Force in 2011 found Rupp had great bones, allowing us to renovate and in fact, reinvent it, to free it, make it visible,” Gray said. “And by leveraging its history, actually make Rupp better than new for a lot less money,” Gray said.
The total cost of the arena and a new convention center is estimated at $310 million. The city is working on a detailed financial plan that will involve several partners including a long-term lease with UK, the state legislature, the Urban County Council and the Kentucky High School Athletics Association.
There will also be an opportunity for UK fans and citizens to participate financially in Rupp reinvention. “Surveys have shown there is a lot of enthusiasm for such an opportunity, much like has been done in Green Bay, Wisconsin,” said Brent Rice, chair of the Lexington Center Board of Directors.
A key part of the plan is the resurrection of Town Branch, the water source around which the city was founded in 1775. “The Town Branch Park will run through the site and continue on through the city, from the Distillery District through Midland Avenue,” Gray said.
The Board of Lexington Center hired top architects to reinvent Rupp – international architects NBBJ and, locally, EOP. Landscape architecture firm SCAPE is designing Town Branch Park.
NBBJ Partner Robert Mankin said, “From the start of NBBJ’s involvement with Rupp Arena, our focus has been on producing an authentic and lasting design that maintains the spirit ingrained in the arena. We’re excited for fans and players to experience the changes firsthand. Together, a reimagined Rupp Arena and Lexington Convention Center will form a new cultural core in downtown.”
Features of the reinvented arena include:
- A transparent skin to bring the energy inside to the city outside
- A “Cat Walk” leading from the University to the arena district
- Outdoor video screens
- Chair-back seats throughout the arena
- Upgraded Wi-Fi
- A new center-hung scoreboard