Rupp Arena will receive a $15 million dollar technology overhaul that includes a new center-hung video, audio and scoreboard array, wireless Internet for fans and patrons and major roof structure improvements so the arena can attract more concerts and major events, Bill Owen, Lexington Center CEO and President, said Monday.
The Lexington Center Corporation Board of Directors voted unanimously in favor at its monthly meeting on July 27 to approve the technology improvement plan. The upgrades will be rolled out over an 18 month period beginning immediately and executed in phases so arena programming will face no interruptions.
The board of directors authorized installation of LED ribbon boards on the upper arena fascia at its May meeting at a cost of $800,000 provided by Rupp’s media partner, Learfield Sports. The ribbon board will be installed and functional for the upcoming UK basketball season. The press box on the east side upper arena to match the one on the west side and authorized at the May board meeting will be installed following the 2015-16 UK season.
Other improvements will include the installation of new venue video production equipment bringing the venue video system to an HD level and replacing the four corner LED screens with HD state of the art screens in a 16X9 aspect ratio.
This will be completed during December between UK games so fans will experience the upgrades as they occur. The LED courtside scorer’s table display will be replaced some time during the upcoming season.
Other improvements scheduled over the next 12 months include replacing the video display in the Rupp Arena lobby and the exterior LED Marquis signs that hang on the Hyatt Regency hotel at Broadway and West Vine and Broadway and High Street.
The center-hung audio/video scoreboard will be installed during the summer of 2016 and completed in time for the 2016-17 UK men’s basketball season. Upgraded Wi-Fi will also be installed before the 2016-17 season as well as improvements to the roof’s steel support structure.
Upgrades to the roof structure are needed as concerts and other productions have increasingly gotten larger and heavier. In order to continue to attract major concert and family show productions it is necessary to increase the show load capacity for hanging production equipment.
Additionally, the sports lighting used for basketball games will be replaced with LED fixtures which are far more energy efficient. Also, the HVAC ducts and structural support towers, currently red in color, will be cleaned and repainted a different color.
The $15 million improvements will be financed through the sale of Lexington Center bonds which will be conducted in early 2016. The bonds will not require guarantee of Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.