The public got a chance to quiz architects about their concepts for rebuilding Rupp Arena. Participants at a hearing Wednesday evening at the Kentucky Theater reviewed preliminary plans for upgrades to Rupp, a new convention center, and a waterfront park along a resurrected Town Branch Creek. Architect Robert Mankin says upper arena in Rupp will offer more than chair back seats in place of bleachers.
“They’ll be a new upper concourse, an upper walkway that will have dedicated restrooms, dedicated food service amenities, retail, and also unique experiences that will be dedicated to this level as well as a new view out to the city,” said Mankin.
Mankin noted there's no specific design at this point. Mayor Jim Gray said, in his opening remarks, there are always going to be lots of points of view when it comes to a project like this. Early estimates set the project's cost at 300-million dollars. Lee Thomas of the Historic South Hills Neighborhood Association believes it would be money well spent.
“Anything that’s worthwhile cost money and if you live in the past, you’ll stay there forever and you have to progress you have to go forward.”
Thomas cited the Paris Pike road project where millions were spent to try to maintain its rural character. He says it was money well spent and a national model for a project with a lasting effect. Another attendee, Marilyn Dishman worries about the projected cost.
“We have poured so much money into this area in the past and into the Oliver Lewis Way and the viaduct and triangle park that I don’t want us undoing what we’ve already done and costing even more money. I mean, we’re strapped,” said Dishman.
Final designs should be out by year's end. That’s when a firm cost estimate is expected.