This was only a matter of time. With Kentucky acting as the most aggressive, prominent and high-profile program in college basketball, Rupp Arena was do for a facelift. The area Rupp sits in is next to a church and a mall. It's a solid spot to convene for hoops but the venue itself isn't considered among the best of the best in college basketball.
Obviously Kentucky would like to change that. And now plans are formally in place to make that happen during 2017-18.
Rupp Arena and "Lexington Center," is set to undergo a modernization that will produce a bill in the neighborhood of $310 million.
Who's paying? The school and "partners," per the release. The announcement came in many forms, including a press conference by Lexington mayor Jim Gray on Monday afternoon. According to NBBJ, the architecture firm associated with the project along with EOP Architects, the building will actually be two parts: an upper and a lower level.
"In essence, the goal is to make Rupp a prototype for modern sports venues," according to the NBBJ/EOP release. "The lower levels will be re-clad in a highly-transparent glass skin reaching as high as 40 feet above the ground. A newly expanded main concourse will wrap around the bowl and have views to the city, while the fan experience in the bowl will be revealed with direct views from the concourse."
The new Rupp Arena will have high-def screens on the outside of the arena and a "Cat Walk" that will connect the venue to the University of Kentucky. (That seems cool and a no-brainer.)
According to multiple reports, the remodeling will not interfere with UK's ability to play home games at Rupp. NBBJ's lead architect on the undertaking also took on the Pauley Pavilion renovations at UCLA in recent years (I was just out there, and it's quite impressive), but that fix caused for the Bruins to play one year away from Pauley.
How drastic will the change be? This GIF, via Aaron Smith, shows the transformation set to take place.