Rupp Arena unveiled a giant video display and booming sound system as part of a $15 million tech upgrade Sunday.
The upgrades were five years in the making and include a Daktronics center-hung video array, an L-Acoustic sound system, and energy efficient LED fixtures for basketball events. Rupp Arena also threw a coat of blue paint on the HVAC ducts and structural support towers which were once red.
These changes coincide with Rupp Arena’s 40 year anniversary. The upgrades were unveiled by Bill Owen, CEO and president of the Lexington Center, who acknowledged the technicians and architects who had to work 14 hour days, seven days a week at heights reaching 110 feet.
Kentucky basketball fans will get a look at the improvements at Friday’s Big Blue Madness event.
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“All of the pieces are state of the art,” Owen said in a presentation. “They are really going to change the game time and event time environment for Rupp Arena.”
The installation work began on Sept. 12, the day after the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s wrapped up its latest visit, said Bob Stoops, Rupp’s technical services manager who has worked for the arena for 38 years.
In terms of the audio, Stoops went with the French company L-Acoustic because of its superior sound. The University of Phoenix Stadium, home to the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, and the Toyota Center, home to the NBA’s Houston Rockets, also use equipment from the same company.
A team of six people assembled the center video board from Daktronics. The company is based in Brookings, S.D.
The installation of all the new tech was completed Friday evening, Stoops said.
Rupp Arena will also have Wi-Fi available to visitors in the spring of 2017.
As part of the presentation, Rupp Arena announced a public, social media-driven contest to name its new video board. The contest will begin on Oct. 14 and end on Nov. 14. The winner will be announced on Dec. 3 during the Kentucky men’s basketball game against UCLA. That person will receive two tickets to every public event in Rupp for the entire 2017 season, including the 2016-2017 UK men’s basketball season. Submissions will be accepted on Rupparena.com/nameit. The old video board was named “Big Bertha.”
Rupp Arena financed the upgrades through the Kentucky League of Cities’ bond development program.