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Rupp Task Force Issues Recommendations

By Brenna Angel


LEXINGTON, Ky. – A task force delivered its final recommendations Tuesday for a redesigned Rupp Arena and a new downtown convention center.

Much of the design proposal for the Rupp Arena, Arts and Entertainment District has already been unveiled to the public in recent weeks. It features the same footprint to house University of Kentucky basketball games, but with a sleeker exterior and better fan experience.

Luther Deaton, head of Central Bank, chaired the task force's finance committee. He says there now needs to be a closer examination of funding options.

"Naming rights is going to be one, what you can sell other land for, have other developments there, what is that going to mean for the arena, what is that going to mean downtown? So there are just a lot of things we have to take into consideration."

The task force identified 14 possible funding sources, including ticket revenue, stock offering, ground leases, and state and local government.

"The one thing we know for sure is that it will be a variety of funding sources brought together for a project this large and complicated," says task force project manager Stan Harvey.

Total construction cost for Rupp, the convention center, and retail space is estimated at $250-300 million.

Master planner Gary Bates believes Lexington is poised to make the project a reality because he says it resonates beyond Kentucky.

"I had someone approach me last week, and this was someone living in Scandinavia, and said How can I get involved?' He said, I saw your project, it's amazing. I love basketball. What can I do?' And he meant on a financial level," says Bates.

The 250-page task force report recommends that the Lexington Center Corporation hire a project director this year to oversee development of a business plan, and it estimates that construction could begin in 2014.