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Public weighs in on future of Rupp Arena, downtown area


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Some big changes are in the works for Rupp Arena and part of the area around it. On Wednesday, folks had the chance to give their opinions on what's being planned. More than 100 people attended a public forum held at the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington.

The discussion is not all about Rupp Arena, but that's the epicenter of the project. Developers say the idea is to create a district downtown.

"This is a real game changer, so we're really excited," said Brent Rice, the chairman of the Lexington Center Board.

But before making concrete decisions, city leaders, architects, and the Lexington Center Board wanted to present their plans to the public.

"From the outset, over the last three years of this process, the public has been very involved. And frankly, we've got some terrific ideas," said Rice.

Renewing and expanding Rupp Arena is one of those ideas. Developers and architects discussed possibly adding more lighting and chair back seats to the arena's upper bowl and transparent walls to the outside. Also, connecting a Town Branch Park with lots of green space to make it all flow together was talked about at the meeting. And Wednesday evening, the public weighed in on that preliminary plan.

"I think they answered a lot of my concerns and actually I feel much better about it," said Eric Elliott, who attended the public forum because he lives downtown.

Several people we talked with say they attended the forum simply to hear what the plans were. Many said they were excited about what they saw, but others were concerned that this isn't a good decision for Lexington.

"It's a 350 million dollar waste from top to bottom. We need other projects to be developed," said Don Pratt, who also attended the forum. "We could keep what we got. We could do better within that institute. We can improve it within and not destroy it."

Whether you agree, developers expect a design to be decided on this fall.

As for the groundbreaking for the project, the chairman of the Lexington Center Board tells us it could take place in late 2014 or early 2015. We are told that's on schedule.


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