Patrons' ideas for a new Rupp Arena to be revealed Wednesday

ctruman@herald-leader.comJanuary 7, 2014 

  • IF YOU GO

    Rupp Arena fan meeting

    A public meeting discussing preliminary plans for inside Rupp will be held 6-7 p.m. Wednesday at the downtown Hyatt Regency Ballroom. The event will also be live-streamed at Ruppdistrict.com from 6-8 p.m., when architects and city officials will be online to answer questions submitted via e-mailinfo@ruppdistrict.com or through social media at Facebook.com/RuppDistrict and @RuppDistrict on Twitter.

Picture it: Visiting a Rupp Arena with enough restrooms, diverse offerings at snack stands, lots of nearby attractions generously promoted, simple parking, an easy-to-navigate concourse and even cheap seats with backs.

But if you want it, you have to ask for it.

The city launched a survey Jan. 2 asking patrons what the renovated Rupp Arena needs most. Within a few hours, nearly 2,000 people had taken the online survey, which asks Rupp patrons to talk about why they visit the arena and what could make their experience better, and their stay in downtown Lexington longer.

At 6 p.m. Wednesday, those planning the Rupp Arena renovation will gather to share information gleaned from the survey.

Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said he admires, has keyed its food offerings to local cuisine including Nathan's, Paisano's Butcher Shop and L&B Spumoni Gardens. The arena offers a private club, the Vault, limo service and a computerized parking system that instructs patrons where to park and lets them pay online.

Barclays Center's 300 online access points allow game watchers to see replays and live game feeds from multiple camera angles from almost any electronic device.

Gray said Barclays is a benchmark — particularly with Rupp's hoped-for emphasis on technology — "so Rupp's reinvention will include amping up the audio, inside and perhaps outside as well, also with wi-fi and social media access."

Other sites Gray likes include the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, formerly Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, and the renovated Pauley Pavilion at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The Bankers Life Fieldhouse has concourses up to 60 feet wide, more than 100 concession stands and seats at least 20 to 22 inches wide. Rupp has 14 concession stands and lower-arena seat widths of 19 inches.

Also within striking distance of Lexington, the Thompson-Boling arena in Knoxville, built in 1987, calls itself the largest on-campus, single-sport arena in the country. It was renovated in 2008 and now has 32 luxury suites in addition to loge seating, which generally includes low-level balcony seats.

Sandra Kendall, a spokesman for the Yum Center in Louisville, said the center, opened in 2010, keeps its patrons happy with numerous upgraded amenities and the beauty of its bold design.

"The newness of everything, how aesthetically pleasing everything is, it's just so comfortable and relaxing to be in the building," she said.

The Yum Center boasts 4 miles of fiber optic cable, 75 restrooms, 70 premium boxes, 72 luxury suites and 212 wheelchair accessible seats and a seating capacity of 22,090 for basketball and center stage concerts.

Kendall said the suites are a big draw.

"People love those," she said. "The wifi is something you don't see at every arena, so they're grateful that we have dedicated wifi."

The center's three primary entrances eliminate bottlenecks for those entering and leaving, she said.

"It makes flow very easy and quick," Kendall said. "We have a parking garage under the arena and we are linked via skywalk to another garage. It's very easy to park. ... And we have seven bars and lounges. They are very comfortable, very luxurious. ... People do love to spend time in those."

Gray thinks that Rupp Arena may be able to surpass that.

However, a financial plan for the arena-area upgrade, once estimated at $110 million, has not yet been released.

"I think we have the potential to set the standard," Gray said. "We knew we had great bones and a great history. We knew we had a great location. The downtown is the place to be for these arenas, not in a 50-acre field. People want the kinetic energy. They want that experience."


IF YOU GO

Rupp Arena fan meeting

A public meeting discussing preliminary plans for inside Rupp will be held 6-7 p.m. Wednesday at the downtown Hyatt Regency Ballroom. The event will also be live-streamed at Ruppdistrict.com from 6-8 p.m., when architects and city officials will be online to answer questions submitted via e-mail to info@ruppdistrict.com or through social media at Facebook.com/RuppDistrict and @RuppDistrict on Twitter.

Cheryl Truman: (859) 231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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