Four months after Kentucky first unveiled plans for Rupp Arena to undergo a massive renovation by the start of the 2017-18 school year, it appears that the project may never come to fruition.
Lexington mayor Jim Gray announced Wednesday he has suspended work on the renovation for now as a result of a lack of support for the project.
At issue is the costly estimated $351 million price tag for the project, which included a renovated Convention Center for the city of Lexington as well. Kentucky had allocated $10.7 million per year toward the project for the next 30 years, but Gray told reporters in Lexington that school officials came to him recently with a scaled-down proposal citing lack of public support.
"We designed the project based on what UK said it needed, but UK has changed its mind about the proposed lease," Gray said in a statement.
"I've learned after more than 850 projects in my construction career never to fall in love with a project. When the time is right, the plan is ready."
Renovating Rupp arena appeared to be a logical next step for a Kentucky program that is among the most successful and profitable in the sport. Kentucky boasts a state-of-the-art practice facility and MTV Cribs-worthy basketball dorms, but Rupp Arena opened in 1976 and isn't considered one of college basketball's crown jewel arenas.
Nonetheless, none of Kentucky's SEC peers will cry for the Wildcats.
They have the most rabid fan base in college basketball. They have the sport's best recruiter as a coach. And they have hoops pedigree unmatched by all but a handful of programs.
Kentucky will be fine. It just will have to make due without a sparkling new arena.
For more Kentucky news, visit CatsIllustrated.com
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