Campus News

New Agreement Keeps UK Men's Basketball in Rupp Arena 15 More Years

photo of UK playing in Rupp Arena
The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team beat Texas A&M Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Lexington’s Rupp Arena. Photo by Quinn Foster I UK Athletics.

LEXINGTON, Ky (Feb. 8, 2018) –The Lexington Center Corporation (LCC) and the University of Kentucky (UK) have executed a “Right of Use Agreement,” culminating in a new 15-year lease at Rupp Arena. This will ensure that the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team keeps playing at Rupp through the 2033 season. The agreement, signed today by LCC and UK officials, is a natural development of a letter of intent which originated in December of 2016.  The current lease expires at the end of the 2018 season.  The agreement also addresses use of Rupp Arena for Big Blue Madness, Blue/White Games, some level of women’s basketball games, as well as Winter and Spring Commencements.

According to LCC Chairman Craig Turner, “This agreement extends the viability of Rupp Arena and ensures its vitality for almost 60 years. This commitment from UK stretches that vital contribution to the city and the state well into the future.”

“When UK and Lexington work together we move ahead, and today’s agreement is a big step ahead for our city,” Mayor Jim Gray said. “The Big Blue Nation will have a state-of-the-art home in a building that represents the greatest tradition in college basketball.”

“The futures of the University of Kentucky and the city of Lexington are inextricably linked. The signed agreement underscores not only our commitment to Rupp Arena for the next 15 years, but to a healthy and vibrant future for the city and community we call home,” said Eric N. Monday, UK’s executive vice president for finance and administration. “Working collaboratively with partners such as Brent Rice and Craig Turner, we’ve forged an agreement that reflects the strong sense that we have a shared future that will be made brighter by continually finding ways to work together.”

“We are excited that Rupp Arena will be the home of the Wildcats for another 15 years. It already has been the home of so much history and shared pride for our university and our community,” said UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart. “We are gratified by the commitment the Lexington Center has made to continuing to improve the fan experience through upgrades to technology and other amenities. With this agreement signed, we look forward to taking the next proud step in a long tradition of excellence that has defined our basketball program and this historic venue.”

According to Bill Owen, president and CEO of LCC, “Reaching an agreement keeping Rupp Arena home for Kentucky basketball for another 15 years is a milestone event for Lexington Center Corporation. It is a compliment to the high level of event support provided by our facilities and its entire staff for the past 42 years. We are all looking forward to the next era of our partnership.”

Details of the “Right of Use Agreement” include:

  • UK will use Rupp Arena for men’s basketball games and select other events through 2033.
  • The university will control multi-media rights and the sale of souvenirs during games. UK will also have responsibility for marketing complex naming.
  • LCC will receive a yearly base payment from UK Athletics of $1.9 million for 28 events.
  • UK will receive revenues from the creation of four clubs and club spaces within the arena for use during games.  The clubs will be constructed along with the new convention center project.
  • LCC will convert some number of seats in the upper arena to chair backs.