College basketball is religion, by my count, in Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, and North Carolina. Kentucky will soon claim its most badass cathedral.
Rupp Arena will undergo a major, $310-million renovation before the start of the 2017 season, Lexington’s mayor Jim Gray revealed in a press conference today. The lower levels will be clad in a glass skin reaching 40 feet off the ground, while the upper level will include an expanded main concourse with views of the city. High-definition screens on the outside of the arena are a given, as is a walkway connecting the venue to the University of Kentucky. Because this is after all a testament to “student-athletes.” (Oh what you can build on the power of unpaid labor.)
The architecture firm responsible for the project is NBBJ, which also recently renovated UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. The architects plan to change the area around Rupp, though, on a drastic level not seen in Westwood.
Here’s a view of Rupp Arena at night, where you can tell they’re going for an understated look:
The interior bowl, with enough seating for a small Hunger Games crowd:
The “Cat Walk”:
A restaurant inside the arena (and notice the model in jorts—a nice touch):
A look at the remodeled Main Street:
An exhibition corridor, featuring what appears to be a skeleton of a horse:
And the entry from Triangle Park:
I very much enjoy shit-talking Kentucky, but credit must be given: in three years, the House that Calipari Built will probably be the nicest arena in college basketball. It’s the the Cowboys Stadium of the NCAA, and it’s befitting a team that is annually really fucking good:
[H/T: Kentucky Sports Radio]