Chair-back seats, HD video, and Wi-Fi connectivity top the list of must-haves for a reinvented Rupp Arena, according to an online survey released today by Mayor Jim Gray. The Fan Experience Survey generated 8,335 responses over the course of two weeks in January.
“The amount of feedback we received from the Big Blue Nation was amazing,” Gray said. “The more ideas we can hear about how to improve the experience at Rupp and downtown Lexington, the better this project will be.”
When asked about new amenities at Rupp, respondents identified chair-back seats, high-definition monitors and scoreboard, and free Wi-Fi as the most important priorities. Not surprisingly, seating comfort, Wi-Fi/cell service, and video monitors were the lowest-rated current conditions at the arena, according to survey respondents.
Survey responses came in from 118 Kentucky counties, 37 states and the District of Columbia. Just over 69% of respondents said they have visited Rupp Arena in the past six months; 92% had attended at least one UK basketball game at Rupp.
The survey also generated almost 11,900 written comments and suggestions, including:
· “Updating all scoreboards, video screens, and sound system.” – response from Louisville, Ky.
· “The seating and fan experience in upper arena definitely need some attention. The seating is very uncomfortable. The rows are so close together that you have to stand and moved out of the way the best you can for anyone else that needs to get to the aisle.” – response from Richmond, Ky.
· “The ability to access wifi while in Rupp would be a huge, *huge* improvement that would open up innumerable possibilities for fans, businesses, Rupp organizers, etc. to connect with one another. Not only do fans get to communicate with other fans, friends, and family, but having wifi at their disposal also allows room for innovative promotions, targeted advertising, and attendance enhancements that can grow and change as social media grows and changes.” – response from Lexington, Ky.
The survey results were released as Governor Steve Beshear, Gray and Lexington Center Board Chair Brent Rice make plans to reveal the new design for the outside of Rupp. A news conference is set for 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10, in the Thoroughbred Room, Lexington Center. The news conference is open to the public.
Fans who cannot attend the event in person can watch the presentation online at www.RuppDistrict.com or follow updates on social media at Facebook.com/RuppDistrict and Twitter @RuppDistrict.
The plan to reinvent Rupp Arena began three years ago when Gray, with UK’s support and involvement, asked a group of citizens to examine the 38-year-old arena and surrounding blocks. After almost a year of study, the group, called the Rupp Arena, Arts and Entertainment Task Force, recommended Rupp be reinvented. The task force concluded that a reinvented Rupp would create a better-than-new, state-of-the-art facility at a lower cost than building a new arena. They also recommended creating an arts and entertainment district around Rupp and making Rupp part of downtown.
A Lexington Center committee hired the nation’s best architects to reinvent Rupp.
In addition to the survey, public meetings were held to gather public input.
After the design for the outside of the arena is revealed on Monday, the architects will increase their focus on the inside of Rupp. The survey findings will be an important factor in their decision-making.