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  • Kentucky announces Rupp Arena renovations

    UK Media Relations

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Originally announced when UK agreed to a new lease in December 2016 and formalized the agreement earlier this year, upper-level chair-back seating and new club areas are coming to Rupp Arena starting with the 2019-20 season. On Friday, UK announced initial details on the upcoming renovations.

    This next phase of Rupp renovations comes on the heels of the addition of a new center-hung scoreboard, ribbon boards, new sound system and lighting that have created a more dynamic game experience at Rupp.

    “Rupp Arena has long been hallowed ground, home to the greatest tradition in college basketball and the best fans in the world,” Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “We are in the midst of an effort to make one of the most special venues in all of sports even better with chair-back seating in the upper level and new club areas, answering feedback we have heard often from our fans. We are excited share preliminary details about these upgrades and look forward to providing more information as we move forward.”

    Chair-back seating in the upper-level sideline will be installed in sections 211-217 and 228-234 through a project that will be completed in the coming seasons. This project is being undertaken in response to years of feedback from fans asking for more comfortable seating in the upper level. Construction will begin after the upcoming 2018-19 season, meaning season ticket locations will not be affected this season. A new seat selection process for all upper-level season ticket holders will begin with the 2019-2020 season.

    In addition to new chair-back seating in the upper level, the renovation will bring new club areas to Rupp Arena for the first time. Fans in these new clubs will be able to enjoy first-class amenities before, during and after games. These new clubs are crucial to providing the funds necessary for both the new lease agreement and the ongoing renovation of Rupp Arena.

    Two clubs available to season ticket holders will open for the 2019-20 season, with another to follow in 2020-21. Club membership does not include a ticketed seat and club members may have seats throughout Rupp Arena. Season ticket holders may purchase club memberships to accompany their season ticket package. Club membership pricing and amenities will be announced as soon as details are finalized, and sales will begin shortly thereafter. Memberships will initially be offered to season ticket holders based on K Fund priority ranking.

    After renovations, Rupp Arena will seat approximately 20,500. The top priority is ensuring that all current season ticket holders will maintain seats in the newly renovated Rupp Arena and UK fully anticipates being able to do so.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Rupp Arena losing about 3,000 seats started by Darrell KSR View original post
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. MickintheHam's Avatar
      MickintheHam -
      They are not chairbacks if they are attached to a bleacher bench. If they are bench backs I hope they are not the cheapass ones MB put in CWS. Nice ergonomic ones such as those at the Hoover Met would be an improvement.
    1. anderwt's Avatar
      anderwt -
      This was so needed
    1. dtalbersjr's Avatar
      dtalbersjr -
      Good lord. What another half assed job by our AD. Reducing capacity (which is fine), adding chairbacks, adding "clubs" but not suites. The clubs are nothing more than interior bars with no view of the game that sell alcohol.

      I have no problem reducing capacity, as long as it's to put in suites and maximize revenue. But that's not what we're doing

      There should be only 2 options: 1) new arena or 2) renovations to make it state of the art with AT LEAST 40 suites. Anything less than that is a criminal misuse of the potential revenue stream we have.


      EDIT: According to KSR, the upper level will NOT be bleacher back, but will be "stadium chair back seats." If true, I like that (assuming they're wide enough).
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Barrett Sallee @BarrettSallee

      Very smart.

      No college program, pro team or arena can win the battle with the 70-inch flat screen, 11-step commute to the bathroom and beer fridge inside the recliner. It's impossible.

      So, give the fans that do want to go the best fan experience possible. twitter.com/KyleTucker_SEC…

      Kyle Tucker @KyleTucker_SEC
      BREAKING: Kentucky is letting season-ticket holders know about big changes coming to the game day experience at Rupp Arena. Some major upgrades — but also a reduction in capacity of about 3,000. seccountry.com/kentucky/kentu…
    1. Terry Blue's Avatar
      Terry Blue -
      That's the difference in Mitch and someone like Jurich. He tells fans the truth about the reduction in capacity whereas Jurich told people he was adding 10,000 to PJS, in reality more like 6500
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      The move is being widely lauded as a great move for Kentucky. That's good to see. I was worried about it.

      I know when I go to a professional arena with smaller seating, it's just a great experience. No reason why that shouldn't be replicated in Rupp, regardless of where you sit. If I have a great experience, comfortable seating, I can live with nosebleed seats. It's not really that bad if you've ever seen a basketball game in a Dome; you know what bad is.
    1. Terry Blue's Avatar
      Terry Blue -
      We averaged 21.8 last year with only 2 sell outs
    1. UKinLA's Avatar
      UKinLA -
      My client, who is a Syracuse grad, liked the news. Going to be more of a battle for that yearly attendance title.
    1. CitizenBBN's Avatar
      CitizenBBN -
      I'm hoping, no I'm praying and will be viscerally furious if they don't make up those seats by just eliminating the upper deck student seating as needed.

      That section is constantly empty unless it's a huge game. Even SEC games it's got at least 500 empty seats, and for tune up games it's easily 1,000 or more, and that includes the fact that most of them in the upper deck were sold after the students turned up their noses. You can whack those seats, move folks around a little and all the season ticket holders will keep their tickets.

      I still like my idea better, which was to put those seats into a one year season ticket lottery where you get some new blood in there, some fans who are excited to be at games. They can still do that by cutting current ticket holders, but I thought an upper deck regular fan version of the ERupption Zone concept would have some appeal.

      I know the national trends, but IMO UK shouldn't be having these issues at this point. We'll feel them eventually but we haven't staved them off well marketing wise.
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Quote Originally Posted by Terry Blue View Post
      We averaged 21.8 last year with only 2 sell outs
      21,875, but who's counting?

      We averaged more than 1,300 fans per game than we'll have seats available this year, to put that in perspective.
    1. CitizenBBN's Avatar
      CitizenBBN -
      Quote Originally Posted by UKinLA View Post
      My client, who is a Syracuse grad, liked the news. Going to be more of a battle for that yearly attendance title.
      I presume we won't get it very often.
    1. MickintheHam's Avatar
      MickintheHam -
      Quote Originally Posted by Darrell KSR View Post
      21,875, but who's counting?

      We averaged more than 1,300 fans per game than we'll have seats available this year, to put that in perspective.
      The renovations will require reseating everyone in the upper level. MB says they hope to learn from mistakes made in the reseating done at CWS. There were mistakes??
    1. Terry Blue's Avatar
      Terry Blue -
      I read that much of the reduceD capacity will come from student tickets. The Commonwealth transition problems were small potatatos compared to the problems Jurich has with moving from Freedom Hall to Yum and football from Fairgrounds to PJS
    1. dtalbersjr's Avatar
      dtalbersjr -
      This has nothing to do with Jurich.

      We’re the best basketball program in the country with the most rabid fan base, but we play in a 42 year old arena that is not up to standards, has insufficient amenities and does not maximize revenue. AND WE’RE LOCKED IN FOR ANOTHER 15 YEARS.

      That’s just not acceptable.
    1. UKFlounder's Avatar
      UKFlounder -
      Is that an AD decision or a school President/Board decision?

      I thought Eli had previously refused to discuss helping Lexington with a new arena, so is this part of his vision of UK basketball?


      Quote Originally Posted by dtalbersjr View Post
      This has nothing to do with Jurich.

      We’re the best basketball program in the country with the most rabid fan base, but we play in a 42 year old arena that is not up to standards, has insufficient amenities and does not maximize revenue. AND WE’RE LOCKED IN FOR ANOTHER 15 YEARS.

      That’s just not acceptable.
    1. Terry Blue's Avatar
      Terry Blue -
      We're not going to build another 20,000 seat arena in Lexington, ha, if that is what some of you want.
    1. UKRxman93's Avatar
      UKRxman93 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Terry Blue View Post
      We're not going to build another 20,000 seat arena in Lexington, ha, if that is what some of you want.
      Hmm, I almost sense you say that with glee Terry; BUT maybe I’m reading too much into your comment.
    1. Terry Blue's Avatar
      Terry Blue -
      Just stating reality, why UK signed a long term contract for Rupp. You better believe an on campus arena was studied 10 ways from Sunday. But was deemed an unrealistic option
    1. dtalbersjr's Avatar
      dtalbersjr -
      Quote Originally Posted by Terry Blue View Post
      Just stating reality, why UK signed a long term contract for Rupp. You better believe an on campus arena was studied 10 ways from Sunday. But was deemed an unrealistic option
      Signing the long term contract was a massive mistake.
    1. ETWNAPPEL's Avatar
      ETWNAPPEL -
      This was badly needed. I hate bench seating in Rupp. Guy behind me put his boot next to my rear and other guys knees were in my back. Ruined my game experience and made me not want to go back.

      I couldn’t give a rats azz about suites. I’ll never sit in one. Not worth all the seats we’d lose creating them. Don’t need the revenue. We seem to be doing just fine.

      Not sure why we need a new arena. Not worth the millions. Who’s going to pay for it? Don’t say “rich people” and don’t say raise taxes.

      Just improve the great arena we have and fix the uncomfortable seating.

      Rupp has gotten much much better.