SBD/June 19, 2014/Facilities

Lexington Mayor Halts Rupp Arena Project After Univ. Of Kentucky Asks To Scale Back

Rupp Arena’s lease for UK men's basketball expires after the ‘17-18 season
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray yesterday announced that he is "scuttling" the $350M proposed renovation project for Rupp Arena and an attached convention center after the Univ. of Kentucky told city and state officials that it was "interested only in a scaled-back Rupp Arena renovation," according to Beth Musgrave of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Gray said that the plans have been “suspended indefinitely until all parties can come together.” The Rupp renovation proposal “included adding chair-back seats to the second tier, luxury seating between the lower and upper bowl, better food and more bathrooms.” Gray said that UK had “requested the luxury seating and other amenities that were originally in the design.” But in meetings with Gray and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear over the past two weeks, UK officials said that they “no longer were interested in those amenities.” The school had “agreed in principle to contribute” $10.7M annually to the project for the next 30 years. Beshear has been one of the project’s "biggest supporters" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 6/19). In Louisville, Kyle Tucker notes UK men's basketball is Rupp Arena’s primary tenant and its "current lease expires" after the ‘17-18 season. Gray met with UK President Eli Capilouto last week in a “last-ditch effort to reach a compromise both sides could live with,” but that “didn't happen.” Gray: “He didn't feel like the public had the appetite for the project right now, and he could do with less of a project. He said the bleacher seats in the upper arena are fine. He didn't think adding suites was a priority. He was talking about a proposal where the university would commit 10-15 percent of the original commitment, which would mean the scope of the project would change completely" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 6/19).
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