Ground was broken Thursday for a Rupp Arena renovation project that, when complete, will modernize the facility for University of Kentucky basketball games.
As part of a broader $241 million project that includes improvements to the Lexington Center convention facility, Rupp Arena will receive several upgrades. Through the renovation, sections of bleacher seats in the upper level will be swapped out in favor of chair-back seating, while new hospitality club areas will be added to the facility, and the arena will receive an overhauled exterior design.
Work is scheduled to take place in phases, which will allow Rupp Arena and much of the Lexington Center convention facility to continue operations during the construction period. The project is slated to be complete by November 2021. More from the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Messer Construction is tasked with finishing the renovation and expansion by November 2021. The convention center and Rupp Arena will remain open throughout the construction period — even during University of Kentucky men’s basketball games — as construction occurs in phases.
Messer, via the construction contract, is required to cover any cost overruns.
“We are very confident in their ability to produce a quality product on time,” Craig Turner, chairman of the Lexington Center’s Board of Directors, said of the construction company. Messer recently did work on the old Fayette County courthouse and the City Center project, formerly known as Centrepointe.
The expanded convention center was designed by NBBJ Architects, based in Los Angeles, and EOP Architects of Lexington. The designs include a brand new wedge-shaped exterior for Rupp Arena, and when finished, the center will be 200,000 square feet of ballroom, meeting, exhibition and hospitality space.
Earlier this year, Kentucky agreed to a 15-year lease extension for its men’s basketball program to use Rupp Arena until 2033. The university’s men’s basketball program has a long history at Rupp Arena, as it has played there since the venue opened in 1976. Additional renderings of the Rupp Arena renovation can be found below.
Renderings courtesy NBBJ.
RELATES STORIES: Construction Contract Approved for Lexington Center, Rupp Arena Renovation; Kentucky Announces Rupp Arena Upgrades; Kentucky Basketball Extends Rupp Arena Lease; New Proposal Includes Upgrades to Rupp Arena