For or Against a New Arena?

There has been consistent talk over the last year about a new basketball arena for the Wildcats and the city of Lexington. With cross state rival Louisville scheduled to open its new arena in fall of 2010, the Wildcats know they can't be far behind when it comes to facilities.

There has been consistent talk over the last year about a new basketball arena for the Wildcats and the city of Lexington. With cross-state rival Louisville scheduled to open its new arena in fall of 2010, the Wildcats know they can't be far behind when it comes to facilities.

However, let's not ignore the history of Rupp Arena and all that has occurred there. In the 33 years since it opened, Kentucky has won more than 90 percent of it's home games. UK has had three national championship teams to come through there and six final four squads. Numerous All-Americans such as Kenny Walker, Jamal Mashburn, Tony Delk and Tayshaun Prince have called Rupp home.

Some of the opposing players who played in Rupp went on to have outstanding pro careers as well. Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal, David Robinson and Dominique Wilkins to name a few.

In the end, if Kentucky closes Rupp down and opens a new facility, there will be many advantages to go along with the disadvantages. Which one will out-weigh the other?


Pros

1. Updated facilities: There are lots of functional 30-year-old facilities in the country. But if they house a basketball team or football team with a great following, they have typically had some kind of major overall or renovations. In the end, while comfort matters the bottom line is dollars. Luxury boxes would be a big chunk of money that Rupp isn't providing right now.

2. Recruiting: While the new arena won't likely be on-campus, it will still pay dividends in recruiting for both basketball and football. Rupp has tons of tradition and memories, but for recruits, they don't remember much, if any of it. Not to mention kids like "newer" and "better" in the materialistic meaning of the word. An NBA style arena could further get the attention of recruits much in the way the Craft Center has as a practice facility.

3. Positive Buzz: While the hype surrounding the program is at close to an all-time high with John Calipari on the scene as the new basketball coach, five years from now there could be a lull. That doesn't mean UK fans won't be excited and won't appreciate the product on the floor. But it does mean that fans are always looking towards the next big thing. The next big recruit, the next big win, the next big hire, the next big --. There will always be big wins and big recruits on campus as long as Cal is head coach, but how often is there a new arena for a program? Kansas's Allen Field House opened in 1955. The Dean Smith Center opened in 1986. Pauley Pavilion opened on UCLA's campus in 1965. Duke opened Cameron Indoor Stadium in 1940. Assembly Hall opened for Indiana in 1972. Obviously a new arena doesn't happen often.

Cons

1. Corporate Sponsorship: This is going to happen. Kentucky has always shown pride in their tradition and the sense of tradition is more in-born than can be explained. The names Alumni Gym, Memorial Coliseum and Rupp Arena all show that sense of pride. But an arena named Acme Incorporated Arena or something similar may feel too professional for many fans. Still, anything short of 35,000 you can guarantee will still sell out regularly, corporate name or not.

2. Seating Capacity: How big are we talking? The word is that the arena could be anywhere from 24,000 to 30,000 in capacity. Officially Rupp seats 23,500. With that capacity, UK will still likely lead the nation in attendance annually, however what kind of seating are we talking? If it's 30,000 there are going to be more bleachers than there are now in Rupp's upper deck. A smaller number may allow more chair-back seats which would lead to better comfort for the fans in attendance. It may seem not that important, but there are arenas that have some highly uncomfortable seats that lessen the pleasure of watching sporting events.

3. Economic Responsibility: With the country being in a recession, there are obviously more important things to do with money than to fund a big basketball mecca. However as long as the university and the city of Lexington aren't asking for state funds to build it, there shouldn't be a problem. Still that won't quiet critics who'll say that it's irresponsible spending with the state of the economy as it is. That kind of press is something that could make things a little rocky.

So do the pros out-weigh the cons? What other positives and negatives of a new arena for UK lie ahead?

Stay tuned.


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