Lexington task force proposes $300m rebuild of Rupp, convention center

If you’re wondering what’s been up with the plans to replace the University of Kentucky’s Rupp Arena for these past four years, it’s now transmogrified into a plan to renovate Rupp Arena, plus a bunch of other stuff:

The Arena, Arts and Entertainment District Task Force’s final report envisions a $250 million to $300 million “transformation” of Lexington Center, including Rupp Arena, the Lexington Convention Center, the Civic Center Shoppes and immediate environs…

If financing is found, phased demolition and construction of the civic center and Rupp Arena could start as early as 2014.

“This important project will require a mix of local, state and private funding for construction,” the report said.

The other change since 2007, apparently, is that Lexington is no longer focusing on using a tax increment financing to fund the construction; it can’t help that its neighbor Louisville is having such trouble with its own TIF district. TIFs are still on the table, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, but along with “naming rights of the arena, premium seating, advertising, sponsorships, concert and event promotions, concessions, stock offerings, state road funds, state tourism tax incentives, tax increment financing and new market tax credits.”

Needless to say, that’s a big mishmosh of arena revenues and public subsidies. Whether this deal makes fiscal sense is going to depend on which items the city and state choose from that menu, assuming they don’t decide the whole thing is too rich for their blood.


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