As it celebrates its 40th anniversary, Rupp Arena is planning for the future, which may or may not include the Kentucky Wildcats.
Since its opening in 1976, Rupp Arena has hosted plenty of memorable moments, including NCAA regional tournaments games. Much of its history, however, has been shared with the Wildcats, who have called the venue home since its opening.
Rupp Arena has been upgraded in recent years, with most of the improvements aimed at modernizing the venue’s technology. However, with the adjacent Lexington convention center set to be renovated, some officials are wondering whether additional upgrades should be considered for the arena.
In the meantime, the University of Kentucky is mulling its own future. The Wildcats’ lease at Rupp Arena–which is owned by Lexington-Urban Fayette County government–expires after the 2017-18 NCAA season, and some have called for the school to build an on-campus arena. Lexington Center Corp. president and CEO Bill Owen, however, believes that an improved Rupp Arena will entice the Wildcats. More from the Lexington Herald Leader:
Some UK boosters would like to have an on-campus basketball arena with luxury suites and other amenities for big spenders. For average fans, the renovated Rupp Arena should have everything they will want and need, Owen said. And it will continue to be called Rupp Arena.
“As the university has consistently stated, our goal is to play basketball in downtown Lexington for a long time to come,” UK spokesman Jay Blanton said. “To that end, we look forward to continued negotiations with our partners at the Lexington Convention Center on a lease to continue playing at Rupp that serves everyone’s best interests.”
Owen thinks Rupp’s latest improvements will give it many more years of useful life, although he declined to predict how many. He is sure of this: “From a video and technology aspect, there’s not going to be a finer, more contemporary arena in the country.”
The grand opening for Rupp Arena was held in October 1976, and hosted its first Wildcats’ game on November 27 of that year.