Rupp project suspended

The Rupp Arena renovation project has been officially suspended, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray announced on Wednesday.

"Following meetings with UK, the @RuppDistrict project to reinvent Rupp Arena and build a new convention center is suspended," Gray said in a statement released via Twitter. "We designed the arena based on what UK said they needed, but UK has changed its mind about the proposed lease.

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"While I'm disappointed we can't move forward (with the) project right now, the city is poised (with a) solid plan that creates jobs, economic development. I've learned after 850-plus projects in my construction career never to fall in love with a project. When the time is right, the plan is ready."

University of Kentucky officials declined to comment on the latest development in what has become a strained relationship between the school, the city and Lexington Center officials.

The original plan, announced in a joint press conference by the three parties in February, called for a $350-million renovation of Rupp Arena and its attached convention center, but it failed to get $80 million in funding approved by the state legislature. UK President Eli Capilouto became increasingly concerned about the school's financial commitment to the project, citing much-needed infrastructure on his campus.

The project would have given the arena, which originally opened in 1976, a major internal and external renovation, including chair-back seats in the upper level and luxury seating between the lower and upper levels.

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