Rupp, convention center staff furloughed due to COVID-19 cancellations


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak is being felt at Rupp Arena and Lexington’s convention center in the form of furloughs and pay-cuts.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports more than 100 Lexington Center employees have been furloughed and staff who weren’t, took pay-cuts.

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The reason?  Nearly every scheduled event at the facilities from March-to-June have been canceled due to the coronavirus and that means a massive revenue loss.

There were major concerts, sporting events, graduations and conventions that had to be pulled from the schedule and that derailed what was on pace to be a record revenue year for the Lexington Center Corporation, according to the newspaper report.

The timing couldn’t be worse because this is happening during a $275 million expansion of the facilities.

The Herald-Leader report says to help pay for the project, the Lexington Center Corporation banked on more than $6 million in hotel and motel taxes to pay off one loan or bond of $108 million, and that money didn’t come in as hotels sit empty.

The report says other revenue sources were supposed to pay for a second bond of $110 million, but that money also went away when the pandemic hit.

Lexington Center Corporation president and CEO, Bill Owen, told the newspaper that the corporation’s board and financial advisors are working on a potential solution to keep the expansion project going and make debt payments on those bonds totaling $218 million.

Owens told the paper a second bond or loan to help cover upcoming debt payments haven’t been ruled out.


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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 You can also follow Tom on Facebook and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.