Lexington mayor's budget plan includes money for Rupp renovation

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Mayor Jim Gray has a $313 million budget plan for the upcoming year. That's about the same amount needed to pay for a plan to renovate Rupp Arena and the Lexington Convention Center. In his annual budget address, the mayor outlined how he wants the city to help pay for the project.

When you think of Rupp Arena, you most likely picture Kentucky basketball and all the banners hung there with a new one added on Tuesday. City leaders in Lexington say they see those things too and much more.

"It's a rare opportunity to directly create a significant number of jobs and opportunities for the thousands of Kentuckians who need them," said Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington.

Mayor Gray calls the city's investment in Rupp the single best opportunity to create jobs and a return on this investment.

"It is affordable," said Mayor Gray. "And it allows the city to continue to invest in the services that I've been describing in this budget."

But the renovation would be a pricey one, estimated to cost $310 million. To help pay for it, Mayor Gray's budget proposal includes a $40 million city bond package with debt payments equaling about $2 million a year.

"It comes from our routine revenues, so this is not associated with any tax increase. This is from our existing revenues," said Mayor Gray. "We're not going to rebuild Rupp on the backs of our regular fans."

The mayor noted that they didn't build Rome in a day, and they won't build Rupp in a day either. He says it's a project that will take time, quoting Coach Cal about his runner-up team.

"It's been about like climbing a mountain, one step at a time," said Mayor Gray.

State lawmakers rejected Gray's request for $65 million for the Rupp project. Governor Steve Beshear and Mayor Gray hope to change their minds before the April 15 deadline.

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