SBD/March 6, 2014/Facilities

Univ. Of Kentucky To Ink Long-Term Lease With City To Stay At Rupp Arena

Kentucky House Bill 544 would set aside money toward the redesigned Rupp Arena
The Univ. of Kentucky "will sign a long-term lease" with the city of Lexington for use of Rupp Arena, marking "the first time the university has publicly said it will sign a long-term commitment" to stay at the venue, according to Beth Musgrave of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. UK officials have "expressed reservations" about the $310M renovation of Rupp Arena and the Lexington Convention Center, fearing the project "could jeopardize funding for other capital projects." But UK Dir of PR & Marketing Jay Blanton said, "We continue to work on our financing plan to help support this initiative. The UK plan includes a long-term lease and new project revenues generated solely from premium seating and other revenue opportunities created by the new Rupp Arena." He added that UK will "not use university money" for the project. Blanton: "No university funds support Rupp today, and none will be used to support this new project." Musgrave notes a final agreement between the school and the city "has not been finalized." The city wants the Kentucky legislature to "give it authority to raise taxes on hotel and motel rooms by 2.5 percentage points to help pay" for the proposed renovation. In addition to "raising the transient room tax" from 6% to 8.5%, House Bill 544 would "set aside money toward retiring debt for the redesigned Rupp Arena and convention center." The remaining money would "promote tourism and economic development projects." Lexington Mayor Jim Gray last month unveiled the renovation plans, but said that a financing plan "would not be released for several months." Gray has stressed that Rupp "will always be part of the name" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 3/6).
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