Celebrating 40 years: Rupp Arena, an ‘icon’
The University of Kentucky introduced its season-ticket pricing plan for the 2019-20 basketball season on Friday. The plan, which is tied to the installation of chair-back seats in much of Rupp Arena’s upper level, calls for a reduction in price for more than half of the seats in the upper level.
The plan, which UK says gives fans more seating options in the upper level, calls for no season-ticket price to increase by more than $122. About 64 percent of seats in the upper level will cost less, UK said.
Fans buying season tickets in the upper level will have to go through a seat selection process. UK expects to begin that process by sending emails detailing the process to season-ticket holders in the upper level this weekend.
The order of seat selection will be based on K Fund priority point rankings as of Feb. 1. Season-ticket holders can begin making seat selections in mid-May, UK said. Payment will not be due until later, so there’s no financial obligation tied to making a seat selection.
Season-ticket holders will have the chance to continue sitting next to or near the same people they did last season. But UK said it could not guarantee the same seat proximity for fans.
Chair-back seats, which will be blue, are planned for the sections behind each sideline. Installation will begin on June 14 following the Kentucky Future Farmers of America event, Lexington Center Corporation President and CEO Bill Owen wrote in an email. The installation is scheduled to be completed in time for Big Blue Madness in mid-October.
The changes will reduce Rupp Arena’s capacity for basketball from 23,500 to about 20,500. Despite the reduction of seats, the budgeted revenue of $22 million from season tickets will remain unchanged, UK said.
Rupp Arena’s lower level will be largely unaffected. There will be no change in the seat selections nor any change to the K Fund donation required to buy season tickets.
However, the price of a season ticket for the rows below the metal railing and closest to the court along the sidelines will increase by $122 per seat. That’s the largest increase for any seats, UK said.
Season-tickets for seats behind the end lines and in the corners of the lower level will increase by $22.
As for the upper level, the option of chair-back (above the sidelines) and bleacher seating (above the end lines) will be available.
All season tickets in the upper level cost $1,166 last season.
That price will decrease to $950 for bleacher seats behind the end lines.
By contrast, there will be an increase for chair-back seats in the four lowest rows of the upper level above the sidelines (sections 231-232 and 213-214). Those season tickets cost $1,166 per seat along with a $500 donation to the K Fund last season. The price for 2019-20 will be $1,400 with a $1,000 donation.
Seats in the next six rows of those sections will also increase: from $1,166 per seat to $1,300. These seats required no donation to the K Fund last season. For 2019-20, there will be a $500 donation required.
The price for chair-back seats further up in sections 212-215 and 230-233 will increase: from $1,166 to $1,300. There will continue to be no need for a K Fund donation.
Chair-back seats in the top four rows of these sections will see a slight price decrease: from $1,166 to $1,150.
UK also plans to re-arrange its student seating sections. Again, the lower level will remain unchanged. But in the upper level, the student section will move from a corner nearest the Kentucky bench to above and behind the E-Rupp-tion Zone.
The student ticket allotment will remain 2,500, UK said. But with about 3,000 fewer seats, there might be fewer single-game tickets available, UK said.
The ticket price increases are not tied to the construction of four new club rooms for season-ticket holders, UK said. Three of the rooms are planned for the west side of Rupp Arena and are expected to be completed in stages early next season, Owen wrote.
The fourth club, which will be on Rupp Arena’s east side, is scheduled for completion going into the 2021-22 season, Owen wrote.
Cost of the renovation of the Lexington Convention Center — which includes the improvements to the interior of Rupp Arena — is estimated at $241 million. Cost of the clubs and the installation of chair-back seats is being paid by Lexington Center Corp., Owen wrote.