If the rumor mill is correct — and Rupp Arena may becomea basketball haven of the past — there is local group ready to move in.
To some longtime Kentucky basketball denizens who atted games at Rupp Arena, a dunk or a perfect Alley Oop pass for a Wildcat basket is akin to ballet by seven footers.
If, as is rumored, the Wildcats take their basketball games somewhere else, ballet might continue at Rupp Arena anyway.
Members of Lexington’s arts community said on that another performance facility is badly needed in the city.
“A definite need exists for another stage in our area,” said Luanne Franklin, program director of the Lexington Opera House.
The Opera House is currently the city’s only performance venue with enough space over the stage to hoist large pieces of scenery out of sight, a pre-requisite for many theatrical, opera and ballet events.
“Everyone wants to be there,” Luis Dominguez, artistic director of The Lexington Ballet, said of the Opera House. “There’s a nice-size stage, and there’s room in the wings for dancers to run off stage. It’s the only space that offers these options. So it’s very coveted.”
It’s also a busy spot. From October 12 (when it re-opens after some internal renovtions are completed) until Christmas Day, the building is in use for all but four days.
Currently, a feasibility study is determing whether there is the need — and desire — for a new hoope home. It will be six months before the study is done. A new arena would still be a few years down the road after that.
Still, in the opera business, one looks ahead.
Accordingly, Bill Owen, Lexington Center president and CEO, said expanding Lexington Center’s convention center into Rupp and adding a performance hall “is as important to me and the Lexington Center as a new arena.”
The sentiment was echoed by Luther Deaton, chairman of the Lexington Center board. “If a new arena is built, we just can’t walk away and let Rupp Arena sit there.”
The current idea being pitched is for a 2,000 seat venue, more than twice the size of the current Opera House. The rest of Rupp would be chopped up into various meeting rooms.