Ribbon advertising boards around the second tier of Rupp Arena could be installed by the start of the next University of Kentucky men's basketball season.
Learfield Communications, which sells and markets advertising rights for Lexington's most recognized landmark, has agreed to give Lexington Center Corp. $800,000 to install the ribbon advertising boards, which are found in most modern arenas.
Lexington Center Corp. manages Rupp Arena, the attached convention center, the Lexington Opera House and retail space inside Rupp and the convention center.
The ribbon advertising will allow Learfield to sell more advertising and in turn, return more money to Lexington Center, said Brent Rice, chairman of the Lexington Center Corp. board.
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In addition, Learfield has agreed to raise the minimum amount of money it will guarantee the center, to $2.25 million a year for the next three years, an increase of $450,000 a year, said Bill Owen, president and CEO of Lexington Center.
Learfield and the Lexington Center Corp. split revenue from advertising. But Learfield guarantees a minimum to the center as part of its contract.
The $800,000 installation and the new minimum were part of an extension of Learfield's contract until 2017-18. The Lexington Center Corp. board approved the extension at its meeting Thursday.
In 2002, during a renovation of Rupp Arena, an additional press box was installed to one side of the upper rim of the arena. To put the ribbon advertising around the bowl — and for it to look good — a similar box must be built on the other side, Owen said.
It's not clear how much that will cost, but it is not included in the $800,000 Learfield has given the center.
Owen said he hoped the ribbon advertising would be in place before UK's first home game but said the construction of the second press box on the other side of the arena might take time.
Revenue from ribbon advertising will help the corporation's bottom line. During the past six months, the corporation has focused on trying to increase revenue. Thanks in part to an improved ticket sales for many concerts, revenues has risen nearly $1.5 million this year compared to last year, according to financial information given to the board at Thursday's meeting.
Town Branch Commons
In other business, the board agreed to sign a letter in support of the city's $13 million federal transportation grant for Town Branch Commons, a 2-mile linear park through downtown.
Part of the proposed $13 million will go toward bike lanes and pedestrian paths through Rupp Arena's Cox Street lot.
Lextran, the city's transit authority, also agreed during a meeting Wednesday to put nearly $1 million toward the park, whose path will go past Lextran's transit center on Vine Street. The money will go toward improvements to the center.