Is Fenway Park And Wrigley Field The Future For Rupp Arena

When it comes to baseball, two fields would make just about any baseball fans bucket list of places to visit, Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston.

When it comes to college basketball, one arena would stand out for many fans, that would be Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington. Built in 1976, Rupp has become an icon of college basketball arenas. The name alone symbolizes the true essence of the sport as Adolph Rupp won four National Championships and held the record for most games won for years.

The question now is should Rupp be replaced or just go through a major upgrade? Jim Host, a Lexington businessman who is chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority that built the KFC Yum Center, had this to say.

“If it were me, I’d make this (Rupp Arena) the Wrigley Field of college basketball,” Host said. “I’d make this the Fenway Park of college basketball. Because already it has a certain mystique about it nationwide of ‘My gosh, I’m going to play in Rupp Arena.'”

To begin the tedious process of deciding Rupp’s future, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray on Tuesday called for a study to determine the feasibility of redesigning and renovating Rupp Arena and the Lexington Center. He did not mention building a new downtown arena.

“There are many people who believe the civic center’s arena and the convention complex need a total redesign and renovation to bring the facilities up to competitive standards,” Gray said. “It needs to be the best — state of the art. Making it the best is a responsible investment in our Lexington brand.”

Gray said he will appoint a task force in the next two weeks and charge it with conducting a study “to get our arms around what is possible” at the civic center, which houses the arena used by the University of Kentucky basketball team and the city’s convention center.

University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. said in a statement Tuesday afternoon the idea of building a new arena to replace Rupp should not be discarded and UK “is very interested in being a part of the planning process.”

“We would encourage every idea to be considered, including the concept of a new arena,” Todd said.

Currently Rupp seats about 23,000. Any design upgrade, to include suites and the removal of the bleachers in the upper deck, could create a loss in the available seating capacity, a decision that some Kentucky fans wouldn’t take lightly.

Go Cats!!!

 

Read the entire story at The Lexington Herald-Leader.

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  • Chip Miller can be contacted via e-mail at ukbigbluenation@live.com.
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