UK fans weigh in on Rupp Arena's future

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - There was another big crowd on hand at Rupp Arena Wednesday night to watch the Cats play Mississippi State. But before the game, some of those fans got the chance to see what Rupp could look like in the future. On Wednesday night, Lexington city leaders unveiled some new renderings of proposed renovations at the arena.

It's the Rupp Arena we all know and love but new and improved with more light for starters and technology with new HD screens and Wi-Fi signal.

"It's kind of gloomy when you're walking around," said Andrew Board, a UK student and fan.

"I'm not jealous of the University of Louisville for many things, but their basketball arena is one I am. It's a very modern place, and it's a fun place to watch a basketball game," said T.J. Gilkey, another UK student and fan.

The idea is to "Free Rupp," creating more space and expanding on what's already there.

"The concourse area needs work like making that look nicer and maybe increasing some of the food options," said Nate Dyer, another UK student and fan.

By brightening up the inside and creating overlook decks, they hope to better your fan experience no matter where you sit.

"The chair back seating is very important to us, and it looks like you'll be able to get in and out without climbing on steps," said Jim Poore, who is UK fan, attending basketball games at Rupp Arena for 35 years.

And the outside of Rupp Arena is just as important. Their main goal is to get people who aren't at the game to still be a part of the experience.

"Whenever you come up to the arena, that's what gets you excited about the game," said Board. "And right now you walk up and it looks like you're about to walk into a warehouse."

Forming a Rupp District and a community surrounding the center is the way architects and city leaders hope to bring more excitement, as if the Big Blue Nation needed any more.

"I was telling him on the way up that it's the best basketball program, and we should play in the best arena in the country," said Gilkey.

It's a challenge they accept to keep the history alive and while also giving it a modern feel and the tradition of UK Basketball at the center of the project.

"As long as they keep hanging banners, I don't really care about the traditions," said Gilkey. "That's most important tradition!"

Fans had a chance to share their input online in a fan experience survey. 8,000 people responded, and many of their ideas were mentioned in Wednesday night's public forum.

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