City Leaders: Rupp Arena Could Be Torn Down

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - City leaders took the first step Monday toward planning a downtown arena that would replace the existing Rupp Arena as the home of Kentucky's basketball team.

Lexington's Downtown Development Authority voted unanimously to hire a consultant to look into the finances of tearing down Rupp and building a larger arena, perhaps on an adjacent parking lot.

The proposal would be a joint venture between the development authority and the board of Lexington Center, which leases Rupp Arena to the university for basketball games. It would be funded by a tax financing system that has been available to Louisville for years but was recently approved by the General Assembly for projects in Lexington and other cities.

The Kentucky Wildcats, college basketball's all-time winningest team, have played home games at Rupp since 1976, and their current lease goes through the 2018 season. There was some discussion among city leaders Monday that a new building could be constructed even before the end of the lease, perhaps as quickly as five years from now.

"As good as it was when it was built, Rupp Arena will be 42 years old when its lease runs out," Mayor Jim Newberry said. "We need to make sure the Cats stay where they belong which, in my judgment, is downtown."

If approved, and Newberry stressed the project is still in its preliminary stages, far more than a basketball arena could be funded as part of the tax increment financing initiative. It could also include convention center expansion, a large parking structure and a performing arts center, likely on the current footprint of Rupp.

Under tax increment financing, or "TIFs," cities are able to develop defined areas not exceeding three square miles and fund the projects with future tax revenues. The areas must generally be deteriorated or sparsely populated, and Newberry said the current Rupp parking lot qualifies.

"You've got a vacant piece of property there," Newberry said. "Essentially the value of the property right now is the asphalt.
If you put a new facility there, it would be ideally suited."

William Owen, president of Lexington Center, said the 24,000-seat arena could be expanded to perhaps 30,000 seats. It also would likely include luxury boxes and other amenities and would be slightly closer to campus.

"We need to be consistent in our objectives by providing one of the best sports arenas for collegiate basketball," Owen said. "If we don't have a planned replacement for Rupp at the expiration of the existing contract, we're failing in that mission."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Adam Location: Covington on Oct 15, 2010 at 10:30 PM
    Anymore talk about a new Rupp Arena ? I'm just curious and I do believe UK needs another arena.... much bigger and they would not have a problem filling it either. I wouldn't go for the taxpayer footing the bill though, as big blue nation could raise enough money to get the US out of the red :) jk
  • by Futuroman Location: KY on Oct 25, 2007 at 11:31 AM
    Instead of building a huge building that will eventually have to be torn down, so why don't we think outside the box? Let's find a huge open field and build a kick@$$ court then build a clear bubble around it. Then we could build as much or as little seating as we want. Since it would all be outside, we could always expand it.
  • by Casey Location: Lex on Oct 25, 2007 at 09:22 AM
    I agree with confused in Lex. Most of the season ticket holders just sit there (when they show up) like they are half asleep. Give those tickets to the real fans who feel the passion and will get up and cheer the team on. It's all about money. The season ticket holders make big donations to the college to get those tickets so if you aren't rich and dishing out to the college you sit up in the ceiling or you don't go at all. I think the dead heads that just sit there need to be put in the nose bleed section and let the true fans sit down by the court. Most of the season ticket holders are just there to see who else is there and be seen themselves. They could care less about the game.
  • by Christina Location: Lexington on Oct 25, 2007 at 07:51 AM
    Ridiculous! Millions of dollars were just spent renovating Rupp/Civic Center which was completed last year. So, Newberry is saying lets just through that money away & start over? I think not. I am an avid UK fan, but I believe UK & Alumni should fund a new arena, not tax money. Let’s get real. There are other athletes in this town in desperate need of a venue, like Swimming & Diving. Most Fayette Co. High School swim teams & one of the largest competitive team in Ky. (combined approx 500 athletes) are swimming in the winter in an outdoor pool covered by a tent. This is the only High School sport in which the students have to pay to rent practice space (not cheap) & cannot house their own meets. There are no other indoor pools in Lex. besides the YMCA’s (need membership) or UK’s pool (which refuses to provide space for these teams to practice or hold meets). Sore spot! Lexington needs an Aquatic Center, large or small. This would not only benefit the athletes’, but also the general public for swimming, water aerobics, lessons & rehabilitation for the handicap. If large enough, then NCAA & SEC championships can be held there (large income $$). It’s pretty bad when small towns such as Georgetown & Versailles have Aquatic / Park & Rec centers & Lexington doesn’t. My point is, why spend more money tax payer’s money on a new UK arena when there are other areas that are in desperate need of funding.
  • by confused Location: lexington on Oct 25, 2007 at 05:32 AM
    I don't understand what difference it's gonna make anyway. It's not even gonna hold that many more people! So we are paying for an arena for the basketball games that most of us can't even find tickets to! The University makes it so hard for anybody to be able to buy a ticket to the games and once you get there you're in the nosebleed sections anyway! I think if they are going to build a new arena, then they should make it a little easier to get tickets!Stop letting all the people who have been season ticket holders for hundreds of years have all the tickets when they don't even go half the time! How many times have I been watching a game on tv and seen tons of empty seats in lower arena just because they didn't wanna come out to the game! They dont wanna give 'em up, but they don't wanna go to them either! Something needs to change around here!
  • by gail Location: winchester on Oct 25, 2007 at 04:56 AM
    It seems that tearing down a perfectly good building especially after you just spent so much remodeling is ludicrous! It is a waste of good money. It is like the old saying throwing good money after bad. Which basically just means your being very wasteful. I know there is a lot of people that are homeless and hungry in lexington and lots of good people that can't get a break that have to live in run down apartments and so on. Wouldn't the tax dollars be better spent on trying to help these families instead of wasting it on a new arena when there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with the one that is already in Lexington?! I have been to several sold out concerts there myself so there is more then just basketball keeping this arena going in revenue. I believe some of the individuals running KY government should have their head examined, before we allow them to use our tax dollars for something like this.
  • by Mrs. Henderson Location: Danville on Oct 25, 2007 at 04:50 AM
    D-Dawg Adams, are you still taking your meds? Don't forget one blue pill and two green ones every morning, unless your doctor has changed your prescription. We are all so proud of you living on your own! Good job. You get a big gold star. We are so proud of you. You are a big boy now. You are a role-model for our program. You are truly a special person.
  • by Bill on Oct 25, 2007 at 04:02 AM
    Tare it down don't build another one.Its a waste of money.Useless as tits on boar hog.
  • by D-Dawg Location: Dville on Oct 24, 2007 at 02:28 PM
    What chu talk'n bout rob from london? named after who? my neighbor bob rupp worked on rupp arena... the house that rupp built..duh. i'm really getting tired of having to xplain stuff to you british people. piece out- d-dawg
  • by Rob Location: London on Oct 24, 2007 at 01:26 PM
    The house that Rupp built would be Memorial Coliseum...not Rupp Arena.It is just named after him,and I don't think Tom Cruise and his magic can help us...not even if he is all jacked up am Mt.Dew.
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