Board of Directors of the Lexington Center Corporation voted unanimously today to award the construction of the new and expanded convention center to Messer Construction Company. Messer won with a $241 million dollar bid to build the new Lexington Convention Center and revitalize the Rupp Arena in Kentucky.
Recommended by the Convention Center Expansion Project Committee, Messer’s winning bid will keep the original 2014 design and vision of the project in tact. The original 2014 Lexington Convention Center design, approved in December of 2016, was developed by NBBJ Architects of Los Angeles CA and EOP Architects, Lexington and includes 100,800 sq ft of exhibit halls, a 25,185 ballroom, 30,270 sq ft of flexible meeting spaces and 110,234 sq. ft of pre-function and circulation space.
“Today marks a very happy ending and an exciting new beginning to a project that will transform the life of downtown Lexington. There are many people to thank for their commitment and unwavering support of this project. We thank Mayor Jim Gray for first proposing the project in 2011 and former LCC Chairman Brent Rice who spearheaded it,” said LCC Chairman Craig Turner in a statement.
Turner added “Our gratitude extends to Governor Bevin and Secretary Landrum for the Commonwealth’s financial support. Special thanks to Councilmen Bill Farmer and Kevin Stinnett who were great advocates for this project and to LFUCG City Council for providing its financial support. Thanks also to VisitLex for its financial contributions. We thank the University of Kentucky for its commitment for the next 15 years, revitalizing Rupp Arena as the primary place and home court for UK basketball. And finally, thanks to Lexington Center CEO and President Bill Owen, and the staff of Lexington Center.”
In addition to work on the convention center, as part of a new lease agreement decided on in December of 2016, Rupp Arena will also see renovations. The 42 year old arena will get upper-level chair-back seating and new club areas starting with the 2019-20 season. The renovation will also bring new club areas to Rupp Arena for the first time. Two clubs available to season ticket holders will open for the 2019-20 season, with another to follow in 2020-21. After renovations, Rupp Arena will seat approximately 20,500 instead of its current 23,500.
Messer beat out two other bids for the contract that includes new construction costs, demolition of the Jefferson Street Bridge including the north abutment, new UK Hospitality Clubs, new upper arena chair back seats and new parking structures.
Construction is expected to begin in mid-July of 2018 and to take roughly three years to complete. The new Lexington Convention Center aims to open in November 2021. The project will be built in phases to allow Rupp Arena and much of the existing convention center to remain in operation during construction. The expanded convention facility will wrap Rupp Arena, but be a separate building that totals over 755,000 square feet.