Proposed Renovations For Kentucky's Rupp Arena Include "Cat Walk," Expanded Seating
Architect Gary Bates last night “unveiled ambitious preliminary ideas for reinventing Rupp Arena” and proposed “tying the University of Kentucky campus more closely to downtown,” according to Beverly Fortune of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Bates said that his urban-design team “wanted community input before making final recommendations to the task force at the end of January about the future of Rupp Arena, the Lexington Center and a proposed arts-and-entertainment area.” Ideas that Bates proposed at a public meeting last night included a “commons area running through the public spaces of downtown” and a “'Cat Walk,' basically a procession route from the UK campus to Rupp Arena” that would cut through the parking lot to the arena. Bates said that the route “would have its own identity … possibly with its own lighting and graphics, such as blue paint or giant cat pawprints on the street.” The plan also proposed "reskinning" the exterior of Rupp Arena “with a translucent covering and changing the interior to expand lower-arena seating, add backs to upper-arena seats, and boost the fan experience with technology, such as an electronic ribbon around the arena and a drop-down scoreboard above the center of the floor.” The plan also would include “building a new Lexington convention center, perhaps to the west of Rupp Arena” (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 12/1). Fortune cited a feasibility study that shows renovating the arena “would cost less than half of what the city would spend to build a new arena and at the same time would include the priorities that the University of Kentucky says it wants in a basketball facility.” Renovation would cost “between $110 million and $130 million, compared to $300 million to $325 million for a new arena” (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 11/30).