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New Proposal Includes Upgrades to Rupp Arena

Rupp Center renovation rendering

Details have been released on a proposed expansion of the Lexington Convention Center, with upgrades to Rupp Arena upgrades included in that concept.

NBBJ and EOP Architects released design proposals on Thursday that addressed possible changes to both the Lexington Convention Center and Rupp Arena, the home of University of Kentucky basketball. The design includes new space for the convention center that would largely take the place of ancillary buildings and a nearby parking lot, while a portion of the current space would be removed. One of the goals appears to be making Rupp Arena more visible from the exterior, as the design a glass or transparent entrance. In addition, the

Rupp Arena’s renovations would also extend to the interior. The venue’s second tier could receive new chair-back seats in place of the current bench seating, likely leading to a reduced seating capacity, and new hospitality suites would be added. More from the Lexington Herald-Leader:

The addition of the chair-backed seats would result in fewer seats in the very top portion of the arena, Lexington Center officials said. The exact number has not yet been determined.

Rupp would get four new hospitality suites. One would be available exclusively for the University of Kentucky men’s basketball program. The three other hospitality suites could be used for meetings or exhibit space, [NBBJ partner Robert] Mankin said.

Luxury boxes were once popular in arenas. Now people want areas like private clubs where they can go before, during or after events, Mankin said.

[Lexington center president and CEO Bill] Owen said the estimated cost for the project is $265 million, which includes debt payments from previous renovations and financing and other costs. That’s an increase from earlier estimates of $250 million.

The group will have a more accurate construction cost estimate by late September, he said.

The full project has an estimated completion date of December 2020, and that is with construction taking place in phases to avoid disrupting convention center operations. Rupp Arena originally opened 1976.

Rendering courtesy NBBJ and EOP.

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