Rupp Arena

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Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center
Rupp Color.jpg
Location432 West Vine Street
Lexington, KY 40506
Coordinates38°02′58″N 84°30′10″W / 38.04944°N 84.50278°W / 38.04944; -84.50278Coordinates: 38°02′58″N 84°30′10″W / 38.04944°N 84.50278°W / 38.04944; -84.50278
OwnerLexington-Fayette Urban County Government
OperatorLexington Center Corporation
Capacity20,545 (Basketball)[1]
5,000-19,575 (Concerts)
SurfaceCawood's Court
Broke groundJune 21, 1974[2]
OpenedNovember 27, 1976[5]
Construction cost$55 million
($238 million in 2019 dollars[3])
ArchitectEllerbe Becket[4]
General contractorHuber, Hunt & Nichols[4]
Kentucky Wildcats (NCAA) (1976–present)
Kentucky Thoroughblades (AHL) (1996–2001)
Lexington Men O' War (ECHL) (2002–2003)
Lexington/Kentucky Horsemen (af2) (2008–2009)

Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center is an arena located in downtown Lexington, Kentucky, United States. Since its opening in 1976, it has been the centerpiece of Central Bank Center (formerly 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 Adolph Rupp with an official capacity of 20,500. In Rupp Arena, the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team is second in the nation in college basketball home attendance.[6] Rupp Arena also regularly hosts concerts, conventions and shows.


The arena's primary tenant is the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team, with the Kentucky Wildcats women's basketball team hosting rivalry and power program opponent games at the venue in recent years. 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 20,500 approx.), conventions, and other events. It is named after University of Kentucky 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.

On January 27, 2020, it was announced that Lexington Center's overall naming rights were sold to Central Bank, a local community bank, by the Lexington Center Corporation and JMI Sports, which handles the multimedia rights for both the LCC and the University of Kentucky. The Rupp name will continue to receive primacy in the fourteen-year agreement for the arena portion of the complex, and be known as "Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center".[7] Floor signage indicating the new naming arrangement was installed on Rupp Arena's basketball floor in time for the 2020-21 season.

Seating arrangement[edit]

The arena has an official capacity for basketball of 20,545 following a 2019 renovation project that was part of a larger renovation and expansion of Lexington Center. The most significant change to the arena was the installation of chairback seats in about half of the upper seating bowl.[8]

Before the 2019 renovation, the official capacity was 23,500, but because of the former all-bleacher configuration of the upper seating bowl, it was able to pack in more than 24,000 for many UK basketball games. The lower bowl also incorporates a student standing-room area called the "eRUPPtion Zone" behind one goal. 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 October 17, 1976. The performance attracted 20,000 people to the newly opened facility.[9]
  • 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 overall record in Rupp Arena of 529-64 (.892) since beginning play there on November 27, 1976. Their last loss was on March 3, 2020 to rival Tennessee. 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 #3 Kentucky play rival Louisville. The final score was a 71–62 victory by the Kentucky Wildcats.
University of Kentucky cheerleaders at Rupp Arena during a basketball game
  • 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.
  • 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.[10]
  • 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.[11]
  • On December 21, 2009, in Rupp Arena, the Kentucky men's basketball team became the first college basketball program to win 2,000 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.[12]
  • 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.
  • The arena hosted several TV tapings for various WWF shows in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • The 500th win in Rupp Arena came on November 27, 2013, against Eastern Michigan, with Kentucky winning 81–63.
  • Before the 2019 renovation, it was Kentucky's largest arena, and has hosted concerts by many performers, including Paul McCartney, Genesis, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Rush, 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 #4 Kentucky hosting #2 Kansas at Rupp Arena,[13] the Guinness Book of World Records measured the loudest indoor crowd roar at 126.4 dB.[14][15] It lasted 17 days before Guinness recorded a roar of 130.4 dB at Allen Fieldhouse when West Virginia played at Kansas.[16]

2015 renovations[edit]

Outside the arena during 2020 renovations
New scoreboard becomes the centerpiece of Rupp Arena

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.[17]

The entire list of renovations as stated on UK Athletics' website[18] 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-Acoustics K2 line array sound 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


Since 2004, Rupp Arena has been home to numerous pageants, including the Miss Kentucky pageant, the Annual Rupp Arena Dog Show, and the Kitty America Pageant for cats.

NCAA Tournament games[edit]

The old center court welcomes fans in the main lobby of Rupp Arena
  • 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[edit]

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.[19]

Attendance Date Kentucky opponent Result
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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center". University of Kentucky Athletics. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  2. ^ "Ground to Be Broken for Lexington CC". Williamson Daily News. June 29, 1974.
  3. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Lexington Center/Rupp Arena - Ellerbe Becket Archived 2011-10-05 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Crowds Roar Approval As Rupp Arena Opens". The Press-Courier. November 28, 1976.
  6. ^ "NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Attendance Leaders Year-by-Year (1970-2011)". National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
  7. ^ "It's Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center as naming rights agreement rebrands Lexington's premier spot". Northern Kentucky Tribune. 27 January 2020. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  8. ^ Pilgrim, Jack (October 8, 2019). "Rupp Arena Unveils New Upper-Level Chair Back Seats". Kentucky Sports Radio. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  9. ^ "History". Rupp Arena. Rupp Arena. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  10. ^ "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.
  11. ^ "NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Attendance Leaders Year-by-Year (1970-2011)" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association.
  12. ^ "Rupp Arena Named The Third Loudest in America - Kentucky Sports Radio".
  13. ^ "Kansas vs. Kentucky - Game Recap - January 28, 2017 - ESPN".
  14. ^ "Kentucky's Rupp Arena breaks Guinness World Record for indoor crowd noise". 28 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Kentucky Fans Set Indoor Noise Record".
  16. ^ "West Virginia vs. Kansas - Game Recap - February 13, 2017 - ESPN".
  17. ^ Marcum, Jason. "Rupp Arena Upgrades Approved; New scoreboard and wireless Internet coming". A Sea of Blue. SB Nation. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  18. ^ "Rupp Arena". UK Athletics. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  19. ^ "Kentucky's Rupp Arena Record". Big Blue History. Archived from the original on 2008-12-02. Retrieved 2008-12-14.

External links[edit]