Rupp Arena opened its doors in downtown Lexington in 1976. Big Blue Nation has witnessed 574 contests in the historic venue.
They have amassed an astonishing 510-64 record during that time.
There are so many memorable games and plays that have occurred there. So many great players, so many fan favorites, great coaches and great opposing players as coaches as well.
The purpose of this article is for you to reflect and think back to your very first time you set foot in Rupp Arena for a Kentucky basketball game. The concerts and Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus events are outstanding but the focus of this is your first memory of Rupp Arena for UK basketball.
How old were you? What year was it? Who was UK’s coach? Who were the Cats playing?
You get the idea.
What stands out in your mind? Did Kentucky win or lose that particular game? Who did you go to the game with?
My first trip to Rupp Arena took place on Dec. 23, 1989. I was 12 years old. It was Rick Pitino’s first season in Lexington. Kentucky was playing host to Portland.
My dad and arrived in Lexington several hours before game time. We kicked around town and killed time for a while and then made our way on over to Rupp. Dad showed me all around the concourses. We then decided to stroll on over and take a peek inside the arena. We walked on in and pretty much had the arena to ourselves, except for the fact that Southwest Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (UK’s opponent the following evening) were holding a closed practice.
Dad and I just stood at the top steps of the lower level and quietly watched them run their sets and do their thing. Somehow, some way they felt our gaze upon them. One of their assistant coaches left the court and made his way to the steps. We allowed him to make the long trek up to us to nicely inform us of what we already knew. Practice was closed. We said okay, thanked him, and headed back out.
I don’t remember what we did from that point up until game time, probably grabbed a bite to eat or something. Time passed quickly and game time was upon us and Rupp Arena was brighter and more vibrant than I could have imagined it.
Pitino’s Bombino’s got the win 88-71. Sean Woods led the way with 20 points.
That’s my first memory of Rupp. The building has aged, eventually a renovation resolution will come about but going to Rupp no matter how many times you’ve been never gets old.