For the first time since its opening in 1976, Rupp Arena will feature chair back seats in the upper level. The official unveiling took place Tuesday. The chair backs along both sidelines in the upper level replace bench seating.
Lexington Center President Bill Owen said the change has been underconsideration since about 1999. But Owen said finding the right product to install without closing the arena took time, and there were concerns about having fewer seats. “In replacing the seats, you don’t get as many rows with chair backs as you get with bleachers. And losing capacity, there just wasn’t an agreement on everyone involved from funding to everyone else required to lose capacity,” said Owen.
The news release states seating for basketball games will now be 20,545 and 19,576 for concerts. Owen said it will mean more comfort and cup holders for those sitting along the sidelines of the basketball court on the upper level. He believes it could also make a difference for concert goers. “With a sell-out crowd, the only thing that’s available is the top four or five rows and it’s a bleacher. That gives you a question about "do I really want to attend that event ?"
"If it’s a chair back, the likelihood of you still attending that event is much greater,” explained Owen.
University of Kentucky Director of Strategic Communication Guy Ramsey said basketball ticket related revenue is expected to be the same this year compared to last season. He added, in part, that comes about by selling more upper level seats as season tickets.
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