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Could Kentucky actually replace Rupp Arena?


Mike Miller

When it comes to the best possible Kentucky basketball venue, anything’s possible. Even replacing Rupp Arena.

That’s not new. AD Mitch Barnhart has wanted a new downtown or campus arena for a few years. But now that Lexington’s exploring its best option for a downtown entertainment district, a new arena may actually happen.

And if a gleaming new venue would boost the program – or take some shine of the KFC Yum! Center -- even better.

“My job is to protect University of Kentucky basketball and make sure it has what it needs to be the flagship of college basketball,” Barnhart told the Lexington Herald-Leader. ". . . . We think about the next 30, 40, 50 years of Kentucky basketball, and how we can be partners with the city in what the mayor’s trying to get done.”

Rupp’s obviously not going anywhere anytime soon. The city’s assessing if it can be renovated or if a new arena is needed and it’ll make a decision from there. The whole process will take months. But it’s still a little strange to think about a new BBN joint.

Ever since it opened in 1976, it’s been filled with diehard Wildcat fans and seen some of the best college hoops of the last 35 years. It’s hosted national champs, all-americans, celebrities and everything else that goes with the sport.

Still, it’s not an historic venue or shining example of stellar architecture. What matters is the basketball that happens inside. If a new arena could match that and boost the program, then Rupp may very well be on the outs.

I mean, it’s Kentucky. They want to win. Where the winning happens isn’t as important.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.