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Rupp Arena Project Gets Bad Poll Numbers


I love this rendering of the Rupp redesign in large part because it includes a guy in jean shorts for no explainable reason

The Rupp Arena redesign project likely took a turn for the worse today as a Bluegrass Poll showed that 75% of the state’s population think that the state should not spend $80 million on the project. The question was asked to 1700 residents of Kentucky over the past weekend and the results are certainly a hit to those supporting the project. Already those in the Kentucky Senate against the project are suggesting that the results showcase that their efforts to kill the project are supported by the state.

However before we reach that as the obvious conclusion, I do think it is worth noting that the question asked was quite misleading and may have led to the results garnered. Here is the poll question as asked:

Should state lawmakers provide $80 million in state funds to help renovate Rupp Arena and an attached convention center in Lexington? Or should the city of Lexington find some other way to finance the $351 million project?

The question gives the responder two scenarios…either Rupp Arena is built with state money or the city finds another way to do it. However the question presents a false dichotomy and leaves out other possible answers. The assumption is that the project will be done and it can be done either with state money or without…so who in that scenario would not say, “lets use something other than state money!” However that is not the reality…the reality is that if the state money isn’t given, the whole project goes out the window. The question as presented gives the person answering the option of the project being built but without state money…however even the biggest supporters of the Rupp redesign admit that is unlikely. So the question allows for two options, one of which isn’t on the table. PLUS, if you are against the project no matter where the money comes from (as some surely are), there is no way for you to register that opinion in the poll either.

Thus to be honest, I don’t think the poll is accurate in suggesting that 75% of the state is against state money on the Rupp project (as some headlines are suggesting). They are against it, if there is another option…but what if there isn’t? That is why a better question would have been:

For the Rupp Arena redesign project to take place in its current form, $80 million must be paid by the state of Kentucky. Do you support the state giving these dollars or do believe it should deny the request for the project?

This question would give a better indication of the true support behind the Rupp Arena redesign. The question above is misleading and certainly had a role in the overwhelming results against the state money being utilized. Whether that role was minimal or significant is unclear, and won’t be known for sure unless another poll is done.

Either way, it isn’t good news for those supporting the Rupp Arena redesign and showcases once again that the project is clearly on shaky ground.

Article written by Matt Jones

47 Comments for Rupp Arena Project Gets Bad Poll Numbers

  1. Drown all lawyers
    8:50 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    Seems to me the original question is pretty f’n obvious. Only a lawyer can take a straightforward question and try to make it seem implausible. People don’t want this project, period. Ask it in as many different ways as you want, you’ll get the same results. NO state money for projects that only benefit the few.

    • A statistician would tell you
      8:53 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      that the question is poorly worded. It’s obvious to anyone actuating more than a handful of brain cells, which I know is beyond the average person, so you’re forgiven.

    • Rei
      8:56 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      Can’t expect brilliance from everyone, can we?

  2. Matt Jones
    8:58 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    #1 if they ask the question the correct way and get the same results, then you are clearly correct…by asking it the way they did, it guaranteed a certain answer

    • Conspiracy
      9:13 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      It’s all a mass conspiracy against UK, isn’t it? Must be. There can’t be any other plausible answer.

  3. I'm really done cring
    9:01 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    This whole thing is a mess. If so many people are against it? Fine, y’all that go can sit in that pole barn and enjoy your sub par food and back breaking bench seating. Watch all those convention dollars flow out of the city, too, as concerts and conventions stop booking Rupp and LCC and move to newer, more modern and accommodating venues. As a resident of Lexington, that will make me very sad. Anything worth attending already books in Cincy and Louisville. Might as well let the B-list acts leave, too.

    • BNClay
      9:18 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      This is truth. My wife wanted to go to TSO. But guess what tour not stopping @ rupp this year. Cincy yes.

    • Billy Hill
      9:18 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      Lexington is not exactly a destination city. A new convention center isn’t going to draw convention dollars away from major cities.

    • Moriarty
      6:56 am May 19, 2014 Permalink

      This. This project could just as well be framed as a commerce project for Lexington, one that Louisville would easily receive in the Senate. Lexington isn’t exactly a destination city, but neither is Louisville to be honest. What makes the two interesting at all is the horse industry and Central Kentucky outshines Louisville in that area. Piss on the Kentucky Senate for leaving Lexington behind on this.

  4. typo
    9:01 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    That should read “I’m really done caring”

    • tom
      2:31 am May 19, 2014 Permalink

      I’m with you pal. What was the title of that country song a few years back, “My Give a Damn is Broken” or something like that? Most people I talk to feel the way of the poll. In these times, $80 mil on Rupp is money that can be better spent elsewhere. I know KSR and Jones have staked their reputation on swaying public opinion and getting the renovation funded. Sorry guys, but the website doesn’t appear to have anywhere near the impact you would like it to.

      Sure, it would be nice to have a sparkling new (albeit) renovated arena but we just can’t afford it. It is especially difficult to convince folks when Rupp is filled every game as is. What we have is fine for now.

  5. blue to the bone
    9:03 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    Did they take any kind of public poll for the YUM center? I know I had no voice to express my opinion on that project that I am helping to pay for.

  6. DustinUK
    9:05 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    1.) The phrase “Seems to me” is the key part of your post. If might be obvious to you but that tells us more about you than the question.

    • LOL
      9:22 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      There is this thing called a reply link on posts. You should try it.

  7. KES
    9:06 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    let the rich blue hairs who hog all the good seats pay for it! why should i pay more to sit up in the corner two rows from the roof? that is if i could even get a seat! sure, i could sit up there to watch them play morehouse or NKU, but cant even get into the place to see them play a good team.

    9:13 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    Very simple here, the city should pay for it or it is a no go. I am a life long UK fan and would love to see a new arena, but is not the job of the whole state to fund a building that is going to mainly benefit the city of Lexington and the immediate surrounding area.

    • EB
      2:45 pm May 19, 2014 Permalink

      But that is exactly what we did for Louisville and then we did it again for their convention center this year. The senate said yes to Louisville and no to Lexington. If you don’t want state money spent that is fine, but that should go for both cities.

  9. krispy creme
    9:14 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    Move back to an on campus arena and let Lexington and the state bite a big one.

    • Never happen
      10:19 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      UK isn’t ever going to build an on campus arena nor are the Cats leaving Rupp if this deal doesn’t get done. In fact the university president hasn’t even supported the proposal.

  10. Cincy Cayt
    9:14 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    Poorly worded question, but it doesn’t surprise me that a solid majority of Kentuckians don’t want this burden. 75%? Probably closer to 55-60%. This is for Lexington way more than for the state. To the commenters above: Don’t be upset when Louisville and Cincy are chosen as venues over Lexington. Louisville is much larger and Greater Cincy is nearly four times Lexington’s population. Heck, NKY by itself rivals Lexington’s size. I love Lexington and got two degrees from UK, but it’s a big town – not a city. I love it for that.

  11. Joe
    9:15 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    As a matter of principle, money or property should never be taken or stolen from one person and given to another, no matter for what purpose – that is the essence of tyranny. Why is it so hard for people to understand that if a sports stadium or any other type of entertainment facility is to be built it should be paid for by the owner?

    • Libertarians are intellectually bankrupt
      9:28 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      For one, your ideology is ludicrous. Second, the owner of Rupp Arena is the city and, by extension, the taxpayers. As a taxpaying resident of both Kentucky and the city of Lexington, I wholeheartedly support the use of tax dollars for this project. It creates jobs and brings money to the city and region in the form event money. Pretty easy justification, assuming you’re capable of critical thought.

    • beavis
      11:49 am May 19, 2014 Permalink

      Libertarian,,,,you mad this morning ? If you want to commit your tax dollars to this project, fine. I for one understand we have other much more pressing needs in Kentucky and I will not support one dime of my tax dollars going to the project.

    9:20 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    I might feel a little different if it was school property but since it is not that argument holds no weight either. If it was school property I would still say the school should pay for it but we be ok with a small allocation from the state budget. Really it comes down to priorities, should the state government assign a higher budgetary priority to a Rupp Arena renovation? Considering other problems we have in the state the notion is ridiculous. But that is what we get from all our politicians now anyway.

  13. Buckeye
    9:24 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    When Ohio State wanted to build a new arena, they did a novel thing – they paid for it themselves. UK should give that a try.

    • Sam's bunghole
      9:41 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      UK doesn’t want to build a new arena. They don’t even own the one they play in now. The city of Lexington wants this arena. UK has stayed out of this debate.

  14. Mark
    9:28 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    I love the idea of a renovated Rupp, but not at the expense of other areas that could use that $80 million – namely, the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System. Right now, 11% of my paycheck goes into KTRS, while the state is contributing nothing, leading to a situation where the money is going out to current retirees, but the money will be all dried up by the time I retire. That’s an example that affects me and a small portion of Kentucky’s population; I’m sure there are other areas the state has neglected that are just as important. That $80 million could be used much more wisely than on a fancy new arena.

    • Cincy Cayt
      9:40 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      Thank you!

    • Paul
      11:01 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      Is the $80M a state capital investment or an amount of bonding authority? If the latter, it’s apples and oranges.

    • FactChecker
      2:43 pm May 19, 2014 Permalink

      Um, you might want to check your facts – the state is, and always has been, contributing more to the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System than the teachers.

  15. Jeff
    9:41 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    Another question about the poll would be where were the 1700 that participated in the poll from? Also how can a poll with about .1% of the states population be truly representative of the entire state?

    • That's how statistics work
      9:51 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      There’s a lot of math involved, but basically, a large enough sample size, assuming it was of randomly selected individuals who had just as much of a chance at being selected as any other state resident, can represent a population statistically, with a given margin of error. You can still bias a survey, as the pollster did with this question, but this is still basic statistics. If you could theoretically ask every single Kentucky resident that exact same question, you’d get almost the exact same result. Take a stats class.

  16. FruitOfTheLoom
    9:49 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    We’re all missing the point. The pollsters are out there with weighted questions and predetermined results, so Rupp renovation is toast. Maybe a little paint here and there, maybe a new ice cream stand, but anything meaningful is out the door. That’s sad because Lexington is a really nice city and Rupp Arena is an iconic place to watch college basketball. It needs the upgrade.

    But to get back to the main issue (Matt’s opening statement), the guy in jean shorts would be showing off his underwear, or worse, if he wasn’t wearing jean shorts. KSR has already condemned cargo shorts, jean shorts, short shorts,and long shorts on non-athletic nerds. Perhaps the fashion police don’t accept shorts in general unless you’re in a tennis match.

  17. Gimel Martinez's Mustache
    9:56 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    I think it’s pretty obvious that most of the state, Lexingtonians included, consider Rupp Arena sacred ground and it’s fine the way it is. Few, if any, want to see naming rights sold (“The Macaroni Grill Rupp Arena!” and even with its very large capacity (by college basketball standards), UK tickets always seem to be tough to get.

    Rupp has always been about the basketball experience, not skyboxes or luxury suites or any of the things that will only get used once a year. Rupp is versatile as is for non-basketball events also.

    Reword the question if you must, but you’ll probably get similar results. Why do people (politicians and lawyers especially) want to muck with a solid, well performing formula? Leave Rupp alone, and spend the money elsewhere. Or if you must, spend the money on decent parking downtown, and while you’re at it, bring back DeSha’s and the Chase Taproom, and fund some tenants in Victorian Square.

    But leave Rupp as is.

    • You're an idiot
      10:12 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      if you think Rupp is fine the way it is. Or maybe just really old and stubborn? Either way, shut up and leave the thinking to those with above average IQ’s. You 50th percentile folks need to just eat your mayo sandwiches and hush.

    • Above average?
      10:33 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      Those with above average IQ’s should be able to provide sound, reasoned arguments to support their positions. Your technique of merely hurling insults at someone with which you disagree belies your implied claim of intellectual superiority.

    • The reasons have been provided
      10:47 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      ad nauseum for why Rupp needs to be renovated or replaced. That these sound reasons still fail to convince some leads me to the conclusion that some are just incapable of comprehending anything beyond digging ditches.

    • Cincy Cayt
      11:11 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

      And those reasons aren’t good enough in case you’re keeping score…

    • tom
      2:36 am May 19, 2014 Permalink

      To Above Average: Amen! Well said.

  18. Bucks
    10:33 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    What if UK just move back to Memorial? Does anyone know what UK pays on their lease at Rupp?

    Just going off the top of my head but Memorial holds 8k? Rupp is 23k, a loss of 15k per game, (roughly 15 games per season) so a total loss of 225k ticket sales per year. An average price of $40 bucks (a guess) per ticket means a total loss of 9 million per year.

    9 million in losses minus the lease and/or other business agreements with Rupp. Just a wild guess but lets say after expenses UK loses 5 mill per year after expenses if they return to Memorial. I know, this will NEVER happen and frankly, it shouldn’t but if the University can’t get the support from the State then why support the State’s economic efforts by playing in Rupp? Look at Duke, (hate to make that comparison) but Cameron holds around 15k and its played on campus. Duke makes it work and I’m sure they could fill a larger State funded arena but they have stayed on campus.

    Rupp has earned UK some good money over the years but I see no shame in returning to Memorial with a pledge to upgrade the heck out of the facilities, adding more seats and general improvements. I remember that NIT game with P-Pat and Purry Stevenson’s crazy dunk. That place was insane!! I’d take that game environment over Rupp’s bloated attendance any day, (minus the NC and UL games… Rupp gets pretty crazy!)

    It’s never gonna happen but UK’s reserved approach to this Rupp funding now seems to make sense. They were careful to not latch on to that State’s teet and its proving to be a wise move. Some were wondering why they weren’t more outgoing in support of this deal. Makes me wonder…

    I have faith in Eli and Mitch. Its almost like they knew this was coming from the start and they aren’t the ones looking like the bad guys. Curious to see what they do next.

  19. $1.75 Tacos?
    10:36 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    Mayor Gray has set up the “new RUPP’ to be a big trainwreck at the taxpayers, and bond holders expense.

  20. Chaz
    10:37 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    I love Rupp the way it is too, but I fear how long it can continue the way it is. Memorial was good in its time too, but how much longer do you expect Rupp to continue in the present condition? Kentucky basketball is generational and leads, not follows. I don’t want to see Kentucky Basketball left behind.

    As for the poster “You’re an idiot”, I agree, yes, you are an idiot. And clean up your sentence structure on the way out.

  21. Some Guy in Kentucky
    11:00 pm May 18, 2014 Permalink

    How many events a year would “new RUPP” need to cover it bond obligation? The YUM center needs about 200, but gets about 100. The “new RUPP” would cost more than the YUM, so it would need more than 200. How many events does RUPP get now? Where are this events coming from? How many events would “new RUPP” need to take from the YUM? The area around the YUM “was going” to make about 6 million dollars a year, it makes about 2 million dollars.
    The S.E.C. is already looking in to the YUM center deal for the bondholders that now have “junk bonds” from the YUM. The state of Kentucky just had to give 600 million dollars to try and fight the S.E.C. about the YUM deal.

  22. Kathy
    12:07 am May 19, 2014 Permalink

    Let the Rupp renovation project die on the vine. None of the people involved with it have been honest and forthright with the public. Eli Capilouto takes orders from people like the rest of us. If Rupp doesn’t get renovated and UK fans start screaming bloody murder for a new on campus arena, Capilouto will be forced to support it. It’s a shame the local hillbillies and yokels in the Lexington City Council and UK Board of Trustees rejected the $500 million IMG sports marketing deal a few years ago. We would already have a new Rupp. That was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Idiots…

  23. Chaz
    12:26 am May 19, 2014 Permalink

    Kathy, details and links, please. Not coming at you, I just haven’t heard of this orI don’t remember the story. Would be interested in reading of it. Thanks.

    2:42 am May 19, 2014 Permalink

    Joe Craft is Billionaire right? What’s $351 million to him. Matt you need to talk to Mr. Craft and get the ball rolling on this matter ASAP. He can’t take his billions with him so why don’t he just go ahead and do this and end all of this debate on state money vs city money or whatever else someone comes up with next. That would eliminate bonding issues, the number of non basketball events that would need to take place for bond obligation (hence the YUM CENTER and their imploding revenue problems), and he would just be a flat out hero in the minds of all of the true die hard fans like you and myself that really want this renovation to go forward. In return, Rupp could even give him a small percentage of revenue generated by non basketball events for his generosity and even let him design his own luxury box to his own gold standard. Mr. Craft already provided us with the Joe Craft practice facility that is flat out light years ahead of any other Division 1 practice facility in the country so why doesn’t he just go for it and make himself 2 for 2. It may upset the people that don’t want this renovation to happen for whatever reason that may be, but, it’s a win win situation for him!! If anyone could get this crazy idea that I dreamed up going Matt, it’s you. I guess that’s what true die hards do is think of anyway possible at 2:30 in the morning knowing you have to get up in three hours for work. I’m done rambling Matt . Let’s do this!!!!!!!! 8 exclamation points (You know why I did that). ! That one is for next year.

  25. Louisville
    9:38 am May 19, 2014 Permalink