Fayette County

Big Bertha is gone; will her replacement at Rupp also have a name?

New video scoreboard for Rupp

A massive center-hung scoreboard with LED screens on all sides was being installed at Rupp Arena to replace Big Bertha. The scoreboard, along with a new speaker system, fresh blue paint on ductwork, a rail system for modern concert rigging and a
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A massive center-hung scoreboard with LED screens on all sides was being installed at Rupp Arena to replace Big Bertha. The scoreboard, along with a new speaker system, fresh blue paint on ductwork, a rail system for modern concert rigging and a

Crews continued to work Thursday on a new center-hung scoreboard that come October will be the star of a renovated and more tech-friendly Rupp Arena.

The Daktronics-made scoreboard will weigh more than 43,000 pounds and will be about 27 feet tall. It has viewing screens on all sides. The scoreboard replaces “Big Bertha,” the white sound system that hung over center court in the storied home of the University of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team since 1976. Named by a Rupp Arena employee, Big Bertha came down during a “retirement” ceremony in May.

What will the new scoreboard be called?

Brent Rice wants the public to decide.

The chairman of the board of the Lexington Center Corp. proposed Thursday that the public get an opportunity to name the sleek state-of-the-art scoreboard.

“Why not let the public give us their ideas?” Rice said during a Lexington Center board meeting. That idea was referred to the board’s public relations committee during Thursday’s board meeting.

Rice said a naming contest would be a great way to engage the public in the nearly completed $15 million renovation of Rupp Arena.

The typically busy arena has been closed most of the summer. A new rigging system used to hang speakers and other equipment for major rock concerts has been replaced and expanded. Ducts that were once a dark maroon have now been painted UK blue. In addition to the new scoreboard, there is a new state-of-the-art sound system. A new platform for television cameras is being completed. All the lighting in the arena has been replaced. The basketball floor has been refinished.

Static signs have been replaced with LED screens in the corners. A ribbon board that wraps around the second tier of Rupp Arena has been added. Moving from static advertising to screens will allow Rupp Arena to increase its advertising revenue.

“I think this board can feel good about spending $15 million on these technology upgrades,” Rice said during an update of the arena renovations Thursday.

Bill Owen, president and CEO of Lexington Center, said the center-hung scoreboard should be operational by Oct. 14. Upgrading the notoriously spotty wireless internet inside the arena remains on the to-do list. The group had to wait until the other projects were finished before starting on the wireless upgrade. Owen said it’s not yet clear how long it will take before the project is completed. The group just received bids on the project.

“The arena is going to be a completely different environment,” Owen said. “It’s going to benefit every patron that attends any event at Rupp Arena.”

Lexington Center also is planning for a $250 million expansion of its convention center. At Thursday’s board meeting, Rice and Owen told board members that architects hope to return to the board in December with initial ideas on the redesign, to include additional meeting space and an expanded exhibit hall.

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall

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