By Jack Brammer
FRANKFORT –Lexington Mayor Jim Gray told state lawmakers Wednesday he is pleased that a new feasibility study about the future of Rupp Arena shows “it is still very possible to retain the extraordinary, awesome energy of Rupp Arena while actually getting far more for our city for less money than a new arena would cost us.”
But Gray, after telling a legislative committee the positives of renovating Rupp Arena, stopped short of saying whether he prefers a new or renovated arena for downtown Lexington that is home for the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team.
Gray said he wants “to listen” to the work of a special panel, the Arena, Arts & Entertainment Task Force, which is scheduled to complete its work Jan. 31 on the development of the 46-acre district that includes Rupp Arena.
“I’m willing to listen, I’m going to listen,” he said.
A feasibility study unveiled earlier this week says renovating Rupp Arena would cost between $110 million and $130 million, compared to $300 million to $325 million for a new arena.
It also said expanding the Lexington Center to add convention and exhibition space would cost $70 million, compared to $100 million to $130 million for a new convention center.
The study is to be discussed at a public forum at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Lexington Children’s Theatre at 418 West Short Street.
Gray told state legislators that he will be back to Frankfort to seek state financial support but he did not mention any specific dollar figure.
He also said Fayette County Superintendent Tom Shelton has expressed interest in moving the School for the Creative and Performing Arts, which is based in part at Lafayette High School, to the downtown district under consideration.