SEC Basketball:

Renovation will eliminate seats at Rupp Arena

By: Bruce Schreiner, The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018
Kentucky cheerleaders perform during an NCAA college basketball game against Florida, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
Kentucky cheerleaders perform during an NCAA college basketball game against Florida, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Rupp Arena's next round of renovations will allow more fans to enjoy Kentucky basketball in comfortable chair-back seats, or mingle in club areas being added for the first time to the famed venue.

Upper-level chair-back seating and new club areas will be coming to the downtown Lexington arena starting with the 2019-2020 season, University of Kentucky officials announced Friday.

"We are in the midst of an effort to make one of the most special venues in all of sports even better," said Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart.

The new amenities will reduce seating at the home of the Kentucky men's basketball team to about 20,500 — down about 3,000 from the current capacity. The school said its top priority is ensuring that all current season ticket holders will maintain seats in the renovated arena.

"UK fully anticipates being able to do so," the school said in a release.

Chair-back seating in the upper-level sidelines will be installed to replace bleacher seating in sections 211-217 and 228-234 in a project to be completed in coming seasons, the school said.

The upgrade comes in response to years of feedback from fans asking for more comfortable upper-level seating, it said. Construction will begin after the upcoming 2018-2019 season.

The more comfortable seating will come at a cost. The school said a new seat-selection process for all upper-level season ticket holders will begin with the 2019-2020 season. UK officials said they are still deciding how the process will work.

Bleacher seating will remain in the upper-level areas behind the baselines.

Two clubs available to season ticket holders will open for the 2019-2020 season, with another to follow the next season, the school said. Club membership does not include a ticketed seat, and club members may have seats throughout the arena, it said.

Season ticket holders may purchase club memberships to accompany their season ticket packages, the school said. Fans will have access to clubs before, during and after games. Club membership pricing and amenities will be announced once details are finalized, UK said. Memberships will initially be offered to season ticket holders based on K Fund priority ranking.

The next phase of renovations follows the addition of a new center-hung scoreboard, ribbon boards and new sound system and lighting. The upgrades come after UK agreed to a new lease.

Kentucky will lose some bragging rights in terms of ranking for a college home court capacity. After the renovations, Rupp Arena will drop from second- to sixth-largest nationally in terms of capacity, school officials said.

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