UK Athletics

New 15-year deal to keep Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena

Rupp Arena will remain the home of the Kentucky Wildcats through the 2033 season after the University and the Lexington Center Corporation announced a new 15-year lease extension on Thursday.

The new deal will begin when the existing lease expires at the end of the 2018 season.

“Rupp Arena has been the home of the Wildcats for four decades and we are proud we will remain there for the next 15 years,” UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. “With the commitment the Lexington Center has shown through technological upgrades and other new amenities, we look forward to the fan experience at Rupp continuing to be outstanding.”

Final terms of the lease will be completed in the near future, according to UK and LCC officials, but some of the highlights include:

  • UK will lease Rupp Arena for men’s basketball games and select other events through 2033.
  • The university will control multi-media rights and the sale of souvenirs during games and have a greater role in concessions, catering and parking.
  • LCC will receive a yearly lease payment from UK Athletics of $1.9 million for 28 events, an increase of about $900,000 from the current terms.
  • UK to reimburse LCC $1,093,750 for previous design work.
  • UK will receive revenues from the creation of four clubs and club spaces within the arena for use during games and other events.
  • LCC will make new capital investments of about $15 million in improvements to Rupp arena. 
  • The name of Rupp Arena will not change.

“This agreement extends the viability of Rupp Arena and ensures its vitality for almost 60 years,” said LCC Board Chairman Brent Rice. “As we celebrate Lexington Center’s and Rupp Arena’s 40th anniversary, this commitment from UK stretches that vital contribution to the city and the state well into the future.”

Added Lexington Mayor Jim Gray: "Great news for Lexington and the Big Blue Nation. And congratulations to the Lexington Center Board. With some of the enhancements considered in 2013 already in place -- technology improvements, ribbon boards and a new center hung scoreboard -- ee are now moving forward with more chair back seats, new hospitality areas and other improvements. The history and pride of UK Basketball will be played in a reinvented Rupp. It’s a win for the city because of the jobs it will bring downtown; and for UK because the arena will set a new standard by enhancing the fan experience."

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