Rupp project suspended

The Rupp Arena renovation project has been officially suspended, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray announced on Wednesday.

"Following meetings with UK, the @RuppDistrict project to reinvent Rupp Arena and build a new convention center is suspended," Gray said in a statement released via Twitter. "We designed the arena based on what UK said they needed, but UK has changed its mind about the proposed lease.

"While I'm disappointed we can't move forward (with the) project right now, the city is poised (with a) solid plan that creates jobs, economic development. I've learned after 850-plus projects in my construction career never to fall in love with a project. When the time is right, the plan is ready."

University of Kentucky officials declined to comment on the latest development in what has become a strained relationship between the school, the city and Lexington Center officials.

The original plan, announced in a joint press conference by the three parties in February, called for a $350-million renovation of Rupp Arena and its attached convention center, but it failed to get $80 million in funding approved by the state legislature. UK President Eli Capilouto became increasingly concerned about the school's financial commitment to the project, citing much-needed infrastructure on his campus.

The project would have given the arena, which originally opened in 1976, a major internal and external renovation, including chair-back seats in the upper level and luxury seating between the lower and upper levels.

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