Mayor Jim Gray weighs in on Rupp Arena funding

The proposed renovations of Rupp Arena continue to be a hot topic around central Kentucky.

A task force recommended the 35-year-old arena be renovated, but how those renovations would be paid for is still up in the air.

"Is it ambitious? Yes!" Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said of the proposed renovations. "But our city deserves it."

The KFC Yum! Center in Louisville received about $75 million in state money. Just like Louisville's arena, one of the options for funding the project is naming rights.

"Everyone talks about naming rights," Gray said. With a brand like Rupp, with a brand like UK basketball, we know that there are opportunities here."

University of Kentucky officials, including President Eli Capilouto and Coach John Calipari, have gone on record saying they don't want state money used for the arena.

They said they would rather have the money allocated to modernizing academic and residential buildings on campus.

"The university has these very compelling needs," Gray said. "The residence halls are a little long in the tooth. Likewise, the city has needs. The challenge that we've got is to work together and recognize that there may be some competition."

Some Kentucky lawmakers have said they're not opposed to some state money funding the renovation.

The next step for the project will come on January 31.

That's when the Rupp Arena task force will issue a full report and more detailed schematic designs of the arena will begin.

As of yet, no money has been requested from the state.

You can see more of the interview with Mayor Gray on Kentucky Newsmakers, which airs Saturday at 11 a.m. On WKYT.

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