Update: State Lawmakers Fail To Approve Bonding For Rupp Arena Renovations

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State lawmakers went home Tuesday night without voting on a proposal to provide state-backed bonding to help pay for the renovation of Rupp Arena and adjacent convention center in downtown Lexington.

The new financing proposal called for $80 million in state-supported bonding.

The proposal never came up for a vote in the Senate as time ran out on the legislative session.

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Earlier in the session, lawmakers refused to include $65 million in state bonding for the project in the two-year state budget that passed the legislature.

Governor Steve Beshear led the push to authorize state-backed bonds to help pay for the project, which was estimated to cost more than $300 million.

"Despite the failure of the Senate to support the Rupp Arena and convention center project, we will continue to seek ways to bring this project to fruition," Beshear said.

"Rupp Arena, the convention center, Lexington and the surrounding region need this overdue renovation and improvement to attract the conventions and investment that modern facilities bring to city centers.  Delaying this project needlessly delays positive economic development for the central Kentucky region, but I am confident that we will forge a path forward," Beshear said.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said, "Sure it’s a setback.  But a setback can be a setup for the next round.  I’ve had projects that took years to develop, so I’m patient.  A complex, transformational project like this takes time and requires overcoming big obstacles.  We’ll just keep working.  Rupp is a great brand that inspires pride and tradition and through new jobs will bring new life to our city."

Chair of the Lexington Center Board, Brent Rice said, "Rupp is nearly a 40-year old facility and we can’t attract the concerts, conventions, meetings and other NCAA athletic events that our competitor facilities do today.  We just can’t compete with a 1970’s era facility.  This outcome is sad for UK basketball fans and those people who would have had good jobs in the Rupp District.  It’s hard for me to understand how it’s fair for Lexington and UK to be shut out when Louisville has been given $75 million for the Yum Center and $56 million for their convention center.  But we’ll work to find a way forward because this project is too important to give up on."

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.