by Kent Sterling
Kentucky Basketball’s tradition will be celebrated in the architecture of the renovation to Rupp Arena that is scheduled to be completed by 2017, and will cost $310 million.
There will be the typical upgrades like enough wi-fi bandwidth for all 23,000 fans, seat backs in all grandstand areas, and a transparent facade. A brand new video scoreboard will be installed at center court, but the upgrades aren’t limited to the arena itself. There will also be a series of immersive exhibition and displays to celebrate basketball in the Blue Grass State through the years.
“Blue and a Whole Lot of White” – A pavilion in the southern end of the new Rupp Arena will celebrate the University’s Kentucky proud tradition of caucasian-only basketball in Lexington that lasted into the late 1960s. “Below the Rim” will showcase Rupp’s Runts, the final all-white team to earn a berth in the NCAA Finals in 1966.
Buck-ets – This exhibit will feature a carnival-esque basketball shooting contest that will reward those who make a shot with Big Blue Bucks dispensed by men dressed like World Wide Wes, the power broker associated with Jay-Z, Michael Jordan, and John Calipari.
From Whisky to Meth – 200 years of substance abuse and capitalism! Hard to think of the Commonwealth of Kentucky without a tip of the hat to to hard liquor, drugs, and the financial success that can be reaped through taking advantage of the craving of addicts. This interactive exhibit allows fans to see and touch a cirrhotic liver and buy fake sets on snap-in corroded teeth.
The Bare-on – Adolph Rupp was known as the Baron, and in this strange NC-17 display his nude robotic image extolls the virtues of racism. This “Hall of Presidents”-esque event is still in beta testing and designers are battling with Rupp’s heirs over whether the mechanical image of the former winningest coach in college basketball history should appear clothed, with a towel wrapped around his waist, or completely nude. “The words are so horrifying than the nudity might distract those tempted to pay attention to what he says,” a planner reluctant to share his name told me.
You Be Joe B. – This is another interactive exhibition where fans get to take a talented freshman and decide how to erode his skills. Given the correct combination of audio commands and directives, video renderings of Charles Hurt and Derrick Hord digress from players with promise into hollow shells of their former selves.
Kentucky Dental Heroes – This display is designed to show that Kentuckians have a sense of humor about their stereotype. It’s a simple empty room with unadorned walls.
All signage and directions will feature pictures only, as though prepared for international visitors. One of the lead architects explained, “Kentuckians speak English reluctantly, and read it worse so we have designed signage in hieroglyphics. It’s like an Olympic Stadium. It was just easier than coming to a consensus about how to spell – “you-uns.”