LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – There is a new future for University of Kentucky basketball and Rupp Arena. They don't know if they'll renovate the existing facility or build new, but plans for an improved arena along with a downtown district in Lexington are moving forward. It's all happening less than a year after Louisville opened its new arena. So does this help or hurt what acts and athletes Louisville can attract?
On Wednesday, those in charge of deciding what to do with Rupp announced the person that will be designing a new arena. Naturally, the question of a competition with the new Louisville arena came up. While Lexington officials say they are not trying to compete, they are looking at what Louisville's already got as they move forward.
There's no doubt the new KFC Yum! Center has attracted some of the biggest and the best.
"It's helped us attract the women's NCAA volleyball championship, the men's second and third round NCAA basketball tournament, eight conventions since the arena came on board plus concerts, basketball, it's really done well for us," explains Jim Wood with the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In fact University of Louisville athletics says it's helped attract top recruits.
"For a kid that's potentially going to play there it has a big impact," said Kenny Klein, a senior associate athletic director for media relations and sports information. "I'd love to come and if I had an opportunity to play somewhere and it's in the finest basketball facility in the country, maybe the finest anywhere, it's a great advantage."
So will updating the decades old Rupp Arena in Lexington and adding in a district around it take some of that away from what's being built here in Louisville? The designers say no, but add KFC Yum! Center is so great they can't ignore it.
"There's just no comparison. I don't see any reason to emulate any kind of model of what they've done. What we do has to be unique and authentic to this experience here," explains head designer Gary Bates.
In fact, Wood said UK is the state's team and updating their facility is the natural next step.
"We encourage Lexington to continue to grow and be the best they can be," said Wood. "If they improve it also helps us and our image as a state."
As for what the true impact could be, it will be years before we find out. They still haven't planned if they are going to rebuild or renovate. They don't expect to have an initial design on the new Rupp Arena until next year.