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Rupp Arena

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Title: Rupp Arena  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of games televised on ESPN Saturday Primetime, 1997–98 Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team, 1994–95 Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team, 1991–92 Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team, 1996–97 Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team
Collection: 1976 Establishments in Kentucky, Arena Football Venues, Basketball Venues in Kentucky, College Basketball Venues in the United States, Convention Centers in Kentucky, Event Venues Established in 1976, Indoor Ice Hockey Venues in the United States, Kentucky Thoroughblades, Kentucky Wildcats Basketball Venues, Professional Wrestling Venues in the United States, Sports Venues Completed in 1976, Sports Venues in Lexington, Kentucky
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Rupp Arena

Rupp Arena

Location 432 West Vine Street
Lexington, KY 40506
Owner Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government
Operator The Lexington Center
Capacity 23,500+ (Basketball)
10,011 (Hockey; expandable to 21,300)
7,550 (Arena Football; expandable to 21,300)
5,000-24,500 (Concerts)
Surface Cawood's Court
Broke ground June 21, 1974[1]
Opened November 28, 1976[2]
Construction cost $55 million
($220 million in 2016 dollars[3])
Architect Ellerbe Becket[4]
General contractor Huber, Hunt & Nichols[4]
Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball (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 Adolph Rupp. With an official capacity of 23,500, it is the largest arena designed specifically for basketball, as well as the largest indoor arena by capacity, in the United States. In Rupp Arena, the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team is second in the nation in college basketball home attendance.[5] The arena also regularly hosts concerts, conventions and shows.


  • History 1
  • Seating arrangement 2
  • Milestones 3
  • Pageants 4
  • NCAA Tournament games 5
  • Attendance record progression 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The arena's primary tenant is the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball program, 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 UK 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 2007. Rupp Arena is scheduled to host second and third round NCAA Tournament games in 2013. Rupp Arena is also home to Kentucky's high school boy's 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.

Seating arrangement

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 (approx. 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 oversize video boards, new lower bowl seating, new locker rooms and a new court.


  • 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 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; they notably upset then top-ranked Tennessee there on January 26, 2006.
  • Rupp is also home to the annual KHSAA State Basketball Championship, with boys basketball teams from throughout the commonwealth appearing for a shot at the state title.
  • Rupp Arena is the home court of the Kentucky Wildcats Men's Basketball Team, with the Kentucky Men's Basketball boasting an impressive overall record in Rupp Arena of 529-64 (.892) since beginning play there on November 27, 1976.
  • 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 8 of the last 10 seasons.[6]
  • 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.
  • 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 Billy Joel, Guns N' Roses, Tim McGraw, Phish, Garth Brooks, Bob Seger, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and, in recent years, Taylor Swift, Drake, Brad Paisley, and Miranda Lambert.


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

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

The Kentucky Wildcats have set or broken the Rupp Arena attendance record 25 times since the arena opened in 1976. In those games, the Wildcats have won 21 times and lost 4 times.[7]

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
24,355 February 10, 2009 Florida Won 68–65
24,459 February 4, 2003 Florida Won 70–55
24,465 February 10, 2007 Florida Lost 64–61
24,473 December 5, 2009 North Carolina Won 68–66
24,480 January 2, 2010 Louisville Won 71–62


  1. ^ "Ground to Be Broken for Lexington CC". Williamson Daily News. June 29, 1974. 
  2. ^ "Crowds Roar Approval As Rupp Arena Opens". The Press-Courier. November 28, 1976. 
  3. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Lexington Center/Rupp Arena - Ellerbe Becket
  5. ^ "NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Attendance Leaders Year-by-Year (1970-2011)". National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
  6. ^ "NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Attendance Leaders Year-by-Year (1970-2011)" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. 
  7. ^ "Kentucky's Rupp Arena Record". Big Blue History. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Rupp Arena, Arts & Entertainment District
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