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Ky. lawmakers get update about Rupp Arena, Central Bank Center expansion project

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 3:23 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - It’s been a 10-month project of planning to construction, but the project to expand and renovate Rupp Arena and its adjacent Central Bank Center should be finished by next year.

Thursday, Kentucky lawmakers were given an update on that project and how the Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center has bounced back from the pandemic.

Five years ago, state lawmakers were asked to help with the $310 million project.

The Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center is hoping to draw a lot of new business through conventions and events and officials say lawmakers allocating millions of rescue plan dollars can help.

In the middle of the 2020 KHSAA Girls Sweet 16, and right after several concerts, COVID-19 dealt, what Bill Owen with Central Bank Center described as, a crushing blow.

What took 126 full-time employees to operate was reduced to 17.

While the arena and center were being expanded, everything else was whittling away - losing concerts, conventions, and other events.

Now that the renovation is much closer to completion, tourism and convention officials are asking lawmakers to help allocate $75 million of Rescue Plan money to help, not just the arena and convention center, but tourism in the entire region.

“Have lunch and be able to get up in front of the 2,000 meeting planners and show them the beautiful video of Kentucky,” said Marcie Krueger with VisitLEX. “When they see what we look like, they say, wow your state is gorgeous, but I had never been there before. The more we can market the surroundings and beautiful facilities, I think it would be extremely helpful.”

You probably noticed that access to the arena has been limited during the constitution, but Bill Owen said new entrances will be open early next year including a new climatized pedway.

Along with the numerous concerts and events canceled at Rupp Arena, tourism officials say the pandemic caused 270 meetings to be canceled impacting 100,000 hotel room nights.

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