Everyone knows by now that Rupp Arena will be renovated. What the City of Lexington does not need to do at all is sell the naming rights and essentially rebrand the area.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said yesterday that if naming rights are sold, Rupp will remain in the name.
“We need to retain what is authentic and original, and Rupp Arena has a lot of … emotional attachment to it,” Gray said.
This should not happen. All one needs to do is look at the top basketball programs in our nation’s history. Those programs being UCLA, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, and Indiana. Nobody has seen those arenas being rebranded at all in recent years. Even after expensive renovations for some, they have kept their names following their original dedication.
UCLA plays at the Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion. Pauley was a University of California Regent that donated one-fifth of the $5 million cost to build the arena. It cost $136 million to renovate the arena from 2010 to 2012.
Kansas plays at the Allen Fieldhouse, named after Dr. Forrest C. “Phog” Allen. Allen coached the Kansas Jayhawks for 39 years. His first stint came in 1907–1909, and his second stint covered 1919–1956. Allen Fieldhouse opened in 1955 with the original construction costing just over $2 million.
Duke plays at Cameron Indoor Stadium. They opened the stadium on January 6, 1940, after spending $400,000 on construction. Originally named Duke Indoor Stadium, they renamed it on January 22, 1972, after longtime Duke Athletic Director and basketball coach Eddie Cameron.
North Carolina plays at the Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center, also known as the Smith Center or Dean Dome. Smith coached at UNC from 1961 to 1997. The Smith Center opened on January 18, 1986 with construction costing $33.8 million. He spent the final 11 years coaching at the Smith Center, one of few coaches that have done so at a facility named for them. Ironically, Smith was not interested in having the center named after him but he was talked into it by the administration when they said that fundraising efforts would fail otherwise.
Indiana plays at Assembly Hall. The arena opened on September 12, 1971, after $26.6 million was spent on construction. It was named after IU’s first basketball arena, which also happened to have the same name. However, university trustees voted in 2007 to replace Assembly Hall “when appropriate.”