Before the home of the UK mens’ basketball team can get a complete makeover, city leaders need to figure how to pay for the project. Brent Rice, chairman of the Rupp Arena task force, discussed possibilities Friday morning at a Commerce Lexington event. “I’m gonna stick my neck how here, but I really think this project is doable,” Rice told the crowd.
Rice pointed to an idea the Green Bay Packers used to generate funding for improvements to their football stadium that allowed fans to buy stock certificates for $250.
“Now if they can sell $67 million worth of that stock in Green Bay, Wisconsin I will assure you that if we could get our basketball coach behind a marketing plan like that and he comes back and he wins the national championship and we want to test this, I’ll guarantee you we can raise what they raise.”
Rice says generally $1 of revenue equals about $10 of bonding capacity.
Possibilities for revenue include naming rights to the arena and convention center, scoreboard advertising, and selling luxury suites. Lexington could also lease out some of the 46 city-owned acres surrounding Rupp.
“Do you think a Cheesecake Factory would come here with this great plan that everybody has seen here? Do you think a Hard Rock Café would come? Sure they would,” says Rice.
The task force hopes to win enough public support for the project to begin hiring staff and complete a feasibility study by the end of the year. Total cost of the Rupp Arena and convention center project is estimated at $250-300 million.