LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - This year's Big Blue Madness event will kick off the 2019-2020 UK Basketball season, as well as a new event experience for fans sitting in the upper arena.
The new chairback seats are in sections 211-217 and sections 228-234.
From bleachers to chair back seating, Rupp Arena unveiled major improvements in a press conference Tuesday to the upper arena along both sidelines.
"It's going to make the event experience for over 5,000 fans and patrons much improved," Lexington Center President and CEO Bill Owen said.
Fans in sections 211-217 and 228-234 can expect a more comfortable and convenient experience just in time for the start of basketball season and upcoming concerts.
“There’s more legroom, they now have chair backs and cup holders," Owen said.
The Lexington Center President and CEO couldn't say for sure whether the upgrades will increase ticket prices. But what will decrease is the facility's capacity by about 3,000 seats.
"We're still at 20,545 seats for basketball and up to a little over 19,000 seats for concerts,” Owen said. “So it’s still a big, big room."
The new chairback seats are just one part of the $241 million construction project to upgrade the Lexington Convention Center.
"You've got finishing up over the next few months what will be eventually an all-new body on the bones of Rupp Arena with a whole new exterior,” Owen said.
It’s work that will continue to detour fans until it’s expected completion in early 2022.
"Access to the arena for games will be very much identical to the way it was last season,” Owen said. “But, next season we'll kind of have to re-educate people on how to get in because at that point we'll be working more on the east side of the arena."
At the press conference, officials also introduced Rupp Arena's first executive chef, Chris Ross, and the signature brand of "Hardwood and Oak" food in Lexington Center venues.