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|Location||432 West Vine Street
Lexington, KY 40506
|Owner||Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government|
|Operator||Lexington Center Corporation|
10,011 (Hockey; expandable to 21,300)
7,550 (Arena Football; expandable to 21,300)
|Broke ground||June 21, 1974|
|Opened||November 28, 1976|
|Construction cost||$55 million
($228 million in 2017 dollars)
|General contractor||Huber, Hunt & Nichols|
|Kentucky Wildcats (NCAA) (1976–present)
Lexington Horsemen (AF2) (2003–2009)
Kentucky Thoroughblades (AHL) (1996–2001)
Lexington Men O' War (ECHL) (2002–2003)
Rupp Arena is an arena located in downtown Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. Since its opening in 1976, it has been the centerpiece of Lexington Center, a convention and shopping facility owned by an arm of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, which is located next to the Lexington Hyatt and Hilton hotels. Rupp Arena also serves as home court to the University of Kentucky men's basketball program, and is named after legendary former Kentucky coach and University of Kansas alumnus Adolph Rupp. With an official capacity of 23,500, it is currently the largest arena in the United States designed specifically for basketball, and is also the largest indoor arena by capacity in the USA. In Rupp Arena, the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team is second in the nation in college basketball home attendance. The only other basketball-specific arena in US history larger than the arena is the now-demolished Charlotte Coliseum. Rupp Arena also regularly hosts concerts, conventions and shows.
The arena's primary tenant is the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team, but the Kentucky Wildcats women's basketball team has also hosted games there in recent years, particularly an upset in early 2006 of the #1 Tennessee Lady Volunteers. Rupp Arena was the host of the 1985 NCAA Final Four, won in an upset by eighth-seeded Villanova. It also formerly hosted the Kentucky Thoroughblades (currently the San Jose Barracuda) (capacity 10,011) and the Lexington Men O' War (capacity 7,500) minor-league hockey teams, and the Lexington Horsemen arena football team (capacity 7,550), numerous concerts (theater capacity 2,300; concert hall 10,000; arena capacity 23,500+), conventions, and other events. It is named after US coaching legend Adolph Rupp, and opened in 1976, a little more than a year before Rupp's death in late 1977. Since the 1985 Final Four, Rupp Arena has hosted a number of NCAA Tournament regional games, most recently in 2013 when it hosted second and third round NCAA Tournament games. Rupp Arena is also home to Kentucky's high school boys' basketball Sweet Sixteen, a single elimination tournament which determines the state champion with sixteen teams representing each of Kentucky's regional high school champions. The construction of Rupp Arena came to a halt during the beginning of the dig after the discovery of bones left behind from the Inuit Tribe local to the Lexington Kentucky area. It was decided to move the build site 1,000 feet in order to properly respect the Native Indian Burial ground.
The arena has an official capacity for basketball of 23,500, but has packed in more than 24,000 for many UK basketball games. This is possible because less than half of the seating (about 10,000) consists of chair-back seats, all of them in the lower seating bowl. The lower bowl also incorporates a student standing-room area called the "eRUPPtion Zone" behind one goal. The upper bowl is completely made up of bleacher bench seats that allow more capacity than chair-back seats. Unlike many arenas built in the following years, it has no luxury suites, and has never been renovated to add them. However, in 2001, the arena received some minor renovations including four oversized video boards, new lower bowl seating, new locker rooms, and a new court.
- The first act to perform at Rupp Arena was Lawrence Welk on Sunday, October 17, 1976. The performance attracted 20,000 people to the newly opened facility.
- The ceremonial first basket in the new facility was sunk by Adolph's young grandson Chip (Adolph III), who went on to play college basketball at Southeastern Conference (SEC) rival Vanderbilt.
- Rupp Arena is the home court of the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team, which boasts an impressive overall record in Rupp Arena of 529-64 (.892) since beginning play there on November 27, 1976. The court itself is named Cawood's Court after longtime University of Kentucky football and men's basketball radio broadcaster Cawood Ledford.
- Rupp staged three Southeastern Conference men's basketball tournaments between 1982 and 1993; it was also the host of the Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball tournament in 1992 and 1993.
- It hosted WWE Backlash in 2006.
- The Rupp Arena attendance record was set on January 2, 2010, when 24,480 people watched number-three Kentucky play rival Louisville. The final score was a 71-62 victory by the Kentucky Wildcats.
- The UK men are the only basketball program in the SEC that plays home games in an off-campus facility. All of the other programs play on-campus, including the UK women, who play in the men's former home of Memorial Coliseum. However, when the women's program expects an unusually large crowd, it will shift an occasional game to Rupp; they notably upset then top-ranked Tennessee there on January 26, 2006.
- Rupp is also home to the annual KHSAA State Basketball Championship, known and trademarked as the Sweet Sixteen, with 16 boys' basketball teams from throughout the commonwealth appearing for a shot at the state title. The KHSAA girls' Sweet Sixteen will join the boys' event at Rupp in 2019.
- The University of Kentucky has led the nation 25 times in NCAA men's basketball home attendance (an NCAA record) since the 1976-77 season (the previous 39 seasons at Rupp Arena), including 17 out of the last 20 seasons, and eight of the last 10 seasons.
- On December 21, 2009, in Rupp Arena, the Kentucky men's basketball team became the first college basketball program to win 2000 games, in an 88-44 win against the Drexel University Dragons.
- On November 8, 2010, ESPN ranked Rupp Arena as the third-loudest venue in college basketball.
- Rupp Arena hosted the August 2, 2011, tapings of SmackDown and WWE Superstars, with the former set to air on August 5, 2011, and the latter having aired on August 4, 2011.
- Hosted several TV tapings for various WWF shows in the 1980s and '90s.
- The 500th win in Rupp Arena came on November 27, 2013, against Eastern Michigan, with Kentucky winning 81-63.
- It is Kentucky's largest arena and has hosted concerts by many performers, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, George Strait, Billy Joel, Guns N' Roses, Tim McGraw, Phish, Garth Brooks, CKY, Bob Seger, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and in recent years, Pearl Jam, Taylor Swift, Drake, Brad Paisley, and Miranda Lambert.
- On January 28, 2017, with number-four Kentucky hosting number-two Kansas at Rupp Arena, the Guinness Book of World Records measured the loudest indoor crowd roar at 126.4 dB. It lasted 17 days before Guinness recorded a roar of 130.4 dB at Allen Fieldhouse when West Virginia played at Kansas.
Rupp Arena was approved for various renovations in 2015 to improve the fan experience and to attract more concerts and major events. The approved renovations totaled at $15.8 million that included a new center-hung scoreboard, advertising ribbon boards, wireless internet for fans, and improved roof infrastructure. These renovations have been completed.
The entire list of renovations as stated on UK Athletics' website include:
- State-of-the-art Daktronics center-hung video board
- 15mm ribbon boards
- Replaced 16mm LED corner video boards with 6mm LED video boards to produce HD quality image
- L Acoustic Line Array audio speaker system
- Total sanding and repainting of the floor to reflect UK's updated branding and logo
- New basketball goals and new shot clocks
- Added press box seating to the east side of the arena
- Replaced LED scorer's table with 6mm version and moved the old 10mm scorer's table to the opposite side of the floor for radio broadcast seating
- Replaced static ad panels in lower four corners of the arena with LED ad panels
NCAA Tournament games
- 2013 Second and Third Rounds
- 2007 First and Second Rounds
- 2002 South Regional Semi-finals and Final
- 1998 First and Second Rounds
- 1996 Southeast Regional Semi-finals and Final
- 1994 First and Second Rounds
- 1992 Southeast Regional Semi-finals and Final
- 1989 Southeast Regional Semi-finals and Final
- 1985 NCAA Final Four
- 1984 Mideast Regional Semi-finals and Final
- 1980 Mideast Regional Semi-finals and Final
- 1977 Mideast Regional Semi-finals and Final
Attendance record progression
The Kentucky Wildcats have set or broken the Rupp Arena attendance record 24 times since the arena opened in 1976. In those games, the Wildcats have won 20 times and lost 4 times.
|23,266||November 27, 1976||Wisconsin||Won 72–64|
|23,271||January 12, 1977||Tennessee||Lost 71–67 (OT)|
|23,392||February 14, 1977||Florida||Won 104–78|
|23,412||February 26, 1977||Alabama||Won 85–70|
|23,472||November 26, 1977||SMU||Won 110–86|
|23,521||December 5, 1977||Indiana||Won 78–64|
|23,608||March 4, 1978||UNLV||Won 92–70|
|23,798||December 15, 1979||Indiana||Won 69–58|
|23,809||December 3, 1980||Ohio State||Won 70–64|
|23,875||December 13, 1980||Kansas||Won 87–73|
|24,011||March 1, 1981||LSU||Won 73–71|
|24,165||December 8, 1981||Indiana||Won 85–69|
|24,185||February 27, 1983||Tennessee||Won 69–61|
|24,203||December 7, 1985||Indiana||Won 63–58|
|24,288||January 14, 1989||LSU||Lost 64–62|
|24,301||February 15, 1990||LSU||Won 100–95|
|24,310||March 2, 1991||Auburn||Won 114–93|
|24,324||January 25, 1992||Arkansas||Lost 105–88|
|24,332||March 7, 1992||Tennessee||Won 99–88|
|24,340||December 23, 1995||Louisville||Won 89–66|
|24,459||February 4, 2003||Florida||Won 70–55|
|24,465||February 10, 2007||Florida||Lost 64–61|
|24,474||December 5, 2009||North Carolina||Won 68–66|
|24,480||January 2, 2010||Louisville||Won 71–62|
- "Ground to Be Broken for Lexington CC". Williamson Daily News. June 29, 1974.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
- Lexington Center/Rupp Arena - Ellerbe Becket
- "Crowds Roar Approval As Rupp Arena Opens". The Press-Courier. November 28, 1976.
- "NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Attendance Leaders Year-by-Year (1970-2011)". National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
- "History". Rupp Arena. Rupp Arena. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- "Board of Control Addresses Championship Sites for Football, Girls' Basketball, Dance" (Press release). Kentucky High School Athletic Association. May 10, 2017. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
- "NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Attendance Leaders Year-by-Year (1970-2011)" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association.
- Marcum, Jason. "Rupp Arena Upgrades Approved; New scoreboard and wireless Internet coming". A Sea of Blue. SB Nation. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- "Rupp Arena". UK Athletics. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- "Kentucky's Rupp Arena Record". Big Blue History. Retrieved 2008-12-14.