Master Planner Says Work Just Beginning in Rupp Arena Discussion

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Whatever happens with Lexington Convention Center and Rupp Arena, architect Gary Bates says the project will be authentic and unique to Lexington. He is the master planner recently chosen by the Arena, Arts & Entertainment District task force.

The decision of whether to renovate Rupp Arena or build a new home for the Kentucky Wildcats is still a ways off, but at a task force meeting Wednesday, Bates said preserving Rupp Arena's atmosphere is a top priority.

"How do you improve fan experience? How do you deal with VIP and investor experience? And how do you deal with all those things and the same time maintaining what I call the whole thing is a kind of eruption zone? I mean that's what exciting about Rupp for me."

Bates is familiar with downtown Lexington. He once taught at UK's College of Design.

While the task force is looking at other arts and sporting venues for ideas, Bates says UK basketball fans should not compare Rupp Arena to Louisville's KFC Yum Center.

"Lexington is competitive by nature just having a great basketball program, so that's natural I think. At the same time I think the experience there is totally different than the experience you have here."

Bates says the project will involve thinking about the downtown area as whole and raising questions about public policy and traffic flow.

Since its first meeting in April, the task force has completed a needs, use, and benefit report and made site visits to Columbus and Indianapolis.