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Beshear Allocates $3.5 Million For Rupp Project

By Josh James


Lexington, KY – Governor Steve Beshear says he's prepared to allocate $3.5 million dollars in state bonds to go toward the planning and design of Lexington's proposed downtown arts and entertainment district.

Lexington officials estimate that renovation of Rupp Arena and the surrounding area could take 10 to 20 years and cost around $260 million dollars. It's unclear how Beshear's $3.5 million contribution, plus $1.5 million in matching city funds, will affect the project. Officials had expressed hopes that the start-up money would be closer to $20 million. Rupp task force chair Brent Rice says his group remains optimistic.

"We regroup and we figure it out. We're very pleased that in these very difficult economic times and [with] all the issues the governor addressed in his budget address, we're very pleased to get partial funding," Rice says.

Meanwhile, despite the governor's proposed 6.4 percent cut to the school's operating budget, University of Kentucky officials say they don't view the Rupp project as a financial threat when it comes to state dollars.

"Our plans haven't changed. I think we've put out where we are... and our priorities are on the campus," University spokesman Jay Blanton says.

The Rupp Arena Arts and Entertainment District Task Force is set to report to the mayor and Urban County Council January 31st.