Mayor Jim Gray and Gov. Steve Beshear unveiled the new $310 million dollar design for the Rupp Arena Monday.
If the multimedia presentation Monday was any indication, officials anticipate nothing short of a hi-tech transformation of Rupp Arena if the new plans are realized. The largely transparent, angular design expands the arena 25 feet on all sides, adds a glassed-in second floor, and a new row of luxury seats inside.
Attendees were treated to a video simulation, swooping through the expanded transparent corridors around the bowl and past a new public entrance reaching out toward Triangle Park.
"This is about creating a place equal to the passion of its people," the video announcer says.
NBBJ architect Robert Mankin outlined the changes inside the arena, promising "a new center-hung scoreboard, LED ribbon boards around the perimeter to give a much more audio/video effect, WiFi throughout the entire facility including the seating bowl, but most importantly chair-backed seats throughout the entire arena."
And while the video ended like a movie trailer with the words “Coming Fall 2017,” whether the project will become a reality largely depends on funding. Gov. Beshear has included $65 million in his proposed budget and Mayor Gray says the city’s funding plan won’t be released until this summer.
"We have the partners at the table. The way I describe it is we're within striking distance of this project materializing," Gray told reporters.
Officials hope to see a funding plan in place this year with construction beginning in the first quarter of 2015.
Not all, however, are on board with the ambitious plans. Monday’s event drew a single protester. Local activist Don Pratt held signs outside the meeting questioning the city and state’s budget priorities.
Critics also point to Louisville’s Yum Center, which recently had its bonds downgraded to “junk bonds” in part because tax-increment financing failed to generate enough revenue to pay them off.
Watch "Rupp Reinvented" below.