SBD/February 1, 2012/Facilities

Task Force Envisions "Transformation" Of Rupp Arena, Surrounding Area

Task force proposes major renovation of city-owned arena instead of replacing it
The Rupp Arena, Arts & Entertainment District Task Force's final report "envisions a $250 million to $300 million 'transformation' of Lexington Center, including Rupp Arena, the Lexington Convention Center, the Civic Center Shoppes and immediate environs, but it does not outline a specific plan to pay for the huge project," according to Beverly Fortune of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. The report, issued yesterday, said that "building a new Rupp Arena would not be economically feasible." The task force "proposes a major renovation of the city-owned arena rather than replacing the 24,000-seat home of the" Univ. of Kentucky. The Lexington Convention Center, "including the Civic Center Shoppes, would be removed." A new convention center made up of a "cluster of buildings on a campuslike setting would be built immediately west of Rupp." UK has a contract with Lexington Center to "play its men's basketball games in Rupp Arena through 2018." If financing "is found, phased demolition and construction of the civic center and Rupp Arena could start as early as 2014." Task Force Chair Brent Rice said there was "tremendous retail opportunity (and) tremendous opportunity with the technology changes inside Rupp." Rice added that the Packers' model of "selling stock to fans to raise money to renovate Lambeau Field also will be looked at" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 2/1). In Louisville, Kyle Tucker notes the task force's goal is to "have basic project organization, a complete business plan and surveys and environmental studies done this year, while concept design and engineering, pre-construction cost estimates and a construction schedule are tabbed for 2013." The schematic design could be "completed in 2014 with initial construction beginning on the convention center that spring." The renovation is "tentatively pegged to begin in the spring of 2015 and be completed in the summer of 2017." The task force said that it spent "significant time exploring the recent Madison Square Garden renovation, which was done in three phases and allowed" the Knicks to "keep using the building throughout, to ensure this project can be completed without displacing UK’s team" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 2/1).
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