Ms. Tyler Thompson touched on this in the News and Views but I want to make sure it doesn’t get overlooked. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, a new study by a feasibility team says that renovating Rupp would cost less than half of what the city would spend to build a new arena. The proposed renovation would include everything the university is looking for in its new facility.
From the Herald-Leader:
Renovation would cost between $110 million and $130 million, compared to $300 million to $325 million for a new arena, according to the technical study that looked at long-term needs for the downtown arena and adjacent Lexington Center.
Expanding the Lexington Center to add convention and exhibition space would cost $70 million, compared to $100 million to $130 million for a new convention center, according to the study.
The feasibility team, consisting of four internationally recognized arena design firms, met multiple times with the athletics department during the study. Rupp Arena task force leader Gary Bates will take the information and make his recommendation in January.
The university’s priorities for the new facility include:
— No loss of seating capacity. Renovation would allow a modest increase in the number of seats, more seats in the lower arena and upper-arena seats with backs, according to the study.
— Uninterrupted play while renovation is under way.
— Upgraded, and in some cases new, support spaces such as a media room, interview room, training room and kitchen. Plus, the option to move the women’s basketball team to Rupp, which would entail a new locker room.
— Some premium seating, including space for the UK president to entertain before and after games. Currently, President Eli Capilouto uses the Bluegrass Ballroom in the Lexington Center.
— New technology including a center-hung scoreboard —perhaps eight-sided — that would display the score, player stats, show instant replays of the game and have close-up shots of coaches and players.
— Retain the collegiate atmosphere of Rupp, as opposed to an arena that would be more appropriate for a professional team.
Bates and the Rupp Arena task force are hosting a public meeting at 6:00 pm tonight at the Lexington Children’s Theater to discuss the renovation. Bates will share his ideas and take suggestions from the crowd.