Public forum draws support for future Rupp

By Gabriel Roxas | 

Wednesday night a special meeting gave folks the chance to talk about the future of one of Kentucky's most famous buildings: Rupp Arena.

A new study looked at the costs of renovating or replacing the 35-year-old facility; and it looks like a renovation would cost half as much as building a new one.

The ultimate idea is not just a new home for basketball, it's for a future Rupp Arena to be the center of an entire arts and entertainment district. At a public forum to discuss the plans, many like Leander Ridgeway found the layout impressive. "Yeah I think it's a pretty good idea 'cause it's going to bring more people downtown and kind of revitalize the downtown area, so I think it's a very good idea," Ridgeway said.

The forum capped off a day filled with discussion about the future of Rupp Arena. In Frankfort, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray told state leaders that renovating the existing structure could cost half as much as building a new one. "Rupp has got great bones," Gray said, "In fact the structural engineer described it as an awesome structure. I've known structural engineers all my life, worked with a lot of them, and I've never heard a structural engineer talk in poetry about a building, and that's what he did about this building."

UK basketball coach John Calipari insisted he was too focused on his next game to put much thought into the future of Rupp, but he hopes it remains accessible to all fans. "Let's make sure we're taking care of Eastern Kentucky, those people upstairs. Don't take away... don't now come back and try to overcharge them. This is important to them," Calipari said, "Maybe it's also western Kentucky that they travel here and they go up in those bleachers upstairs. 'Well let's take away their seats.' No, don't take away their seats, so there's a lot of issues out there that these people have to deal with."

Mayor Gray described the feasibility study that provided construction costs as one piece of the puzzle. He expects the complete report to be done by the end of January.

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