Rupp Arena architect and construction firm selected but project's funding still TBD

07/10/2013 05:05 PM

LEXINGTON — State and local government leaders announced Wednesday that they’ve hired an architectural firm and construction company to renovate Rupp Arena but acknowledged that how to pay for the project has yet to be determined.

International architectural firm NBBJ will work with the Lexington-based architectural firm EOP Projects to redesign Rupp Arena, while the Hunt Construction Group of Indianapolis will be the construction manager. unt is the same company that broke ground on Rupp Arena in 1974.

Robert Mankin, who is out of NBBJ’s Los Angeles office, will spearhead the design.

A subcommittee of the Lexington Center board interviewed five construction companies and four architectural firms before choosing Hunt and NBBJ. The firms hope to have a plan in place by mid-October in time for the Wildcats’ “Midnight Madness.”

Groundbreaking for the project is scheduled for fall of 2014, and construction is expected to last two years while the arena will still be used for UK basketball games and concerts.

Early plans call for Rupp to stand alone, free from the Lexington Center. Inside, the renovated arena will feature expanded concourses, chair-back seats throughout, suites and a new scoreboard. The seating capacity will remain the same.

In addition, Lexington Center’s convention space will be expanded at least 100,000 square feet, doubling the space for exhibitions, while adding a new ballroom and more meeting rooms.

But funding remains the big unknown.

“This is going to be partnership of a lot of folks when it is all said and done,” Beshear said. “Obviously the state will play some roll. The city is going to play a role.”

One of the funding mechanisms being considered is selling naming rights.

“We think there’s significant value for a company to have its name associated with Rupp Arena,” said Rice.

Both of the firms hired have extensive experience building sports venues. In recent years, Hunt has built Orlando’s Amway Center, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and Busch Stadium in St. Louis. NBBJ has worked on the design of Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Staples Center in Los Angeles, Safeco Field in Seattle and the $136 million renovation of UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.

About Don Weber

Don Weber joined cn|2 when it launched back in May 2010 and soon became a reporter for Pure Politics. He is a graduate of Northern Kentucky University and has spent many years covering everything from politics to sports. Don says he loves meeting new people everyday as part of his job and also enjoys the fact that no two days are the same when he comes to work. Don Weber can be reached at


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