LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Some big changes are coming to Rupp Arena and Lexington Center over the next few years.
Wednesday morning, an architect and construction company were named for the project. In the meeting, the board approved the architecture company, NBBJ, who has been behind massive projects before, and construction contracts for this Lexington project. Hunt Construction will also help complete Rupp's renovations.
Coach Joe B. Hall was especially thrilled that the board unanimously voted to go with Hunt Construction company, which was also the company that helped construct the original Rupp Arena. Coach Hall is on board with all plans, even with the reality that some nostalgia and game superstitions will be removed, he says it's about preserving this sacred place for Cats games and other events in the future.
"We rose to the top of the heap with Rupp Arena, and it will be functional and at the top for near 40 years when the renovations are complete," Coach Hall told WKYT.
Now, it's a matter of getting the financing for the massive projects in line. Project managers plan to have a financial plan in place in 30 days. They also say that the plan will be transparent.
There are several scheduled events coming up at Rupp Arena that construction companies will have to work around.
The plans include private suites, a new center-hung scoreboard, chair-back seats throughout the arena, expanded concourse, a new hospitality level.
The overall seat count will remain at 23,500.
The first phase of the projects is set to begin in the fall of 2014. Once the project is underway, a construction scheduled will allow the Wildcats to play basketball at Rupp during renovations.
Meanwhile, the renovation and expansion of the Lexington Center will add about 100,000 square feet, but doubling space for exhibitions, and adding a new ballroom and meeting rooms.
The project will be led by NBBJ’s team of veteran sports and convention center architects, including Robert Mankin, Jonathan Ward and Tim Lambert, who will be joined by NBBJ urban planner and Harvard professor Alex Krieger. The NBBJ team will partner with Lexington-based EOP Architects and world-renowned convention center architect Don Grinberg, FAIA.
NBBJ led the renovation and expansion of Pauley Pavilion at UCLA.
Some Cats fans don't want any changes to come to Rupp Arena. Other fans WKYT spoke with say they're okay with changes if it doesn't ruin the history.
"Keep Rupp Arena going and making it the premier facility on the planet and the greatest tradition, come to the games and see us win," says Kenny Goodie, a Cats fan.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said the renovations include a parking plan that will include an above ground parking garage.