Our good pals over at StadiumJourney.com are rounding the planet rating each and every pro, college, ymca, and your church league stadium/arena to give you the down low on what to expect. Below is a guest review of Rupp Arena and according to this person it scored a 4.3 fanfare rating out of 5. Not bad I guess, you be the judge if they are accurate or not:
Rupp Arena, located in downtown Lexington, is, as the PA announcer claims at the start of a game, “The Home of the Greatest Tradition in the History of College Basketball”. If the 23,500 blue seats and ultra-passionate fans do not do the venue justice, then the seven national championship banners hanging in the rafters will. Rupp is truly a must-see for any college basketball fan.
Food & Beverage 3/5
The food selection at Rupp Arena is fairly average for a college sporting venue, where alcohol is not served. A hot dog is $3, chicken sandwich $4, and BBQ sandwich $4.75. A large popcorn and large drink are both $3.75. There are several of these primary stands, and a couple specialty stands, all of which avoid crowding nicely except right at the start of half-time. The specialty stands serve items including Dunkin’ Donuts, Dippin’ Dots, and personal Papa John’s Pizzas.
The atmosphere at Rupp Arena is one of the best, if not the best, in all of college basketball. Being the winningest program in the history of college basketball and having just passed 2000 wins in 2009, the Kentucky Wildcats often give fans plenty of reason to cheer.
While the roar of the crowd may not be present during the entirety of a blowout, the runs, dunks, and threes bring the crown hugely to life. During the big games, of which there are plenty, these moments bring the noise to a peak above the already loud roar. The eRUPPtion Zone is a standing-room-only student section under the right basket where the students jump and yell to intimidate the opponent.
Driving into Rupp Arena takes you immediately through the heart of downtown Lexington. This area is extremely nice, and has a great medium-sized city feel. Rupp Arena is connected to the Lexington Convention Center with a large food court and shopping area.
There are also several other food choices within two blocks in downtown Lexington. About a half-mile southeast, there are some longer-established restaurants on the corner of the Kentucky campus. Here you can grab a bite at the classic college burger joint Tolly-Ho or get pizza from Pazzo’s, Mellow Mushroom, or Joe Bologna’s.
This area also has a SmashBurger, Raising Cane’s, and Firehouse Subs. With the combination of the quick-bites immediately around Rupp and more of the sit-down places farther away, the neighborhood food selection around Rupp Arena is quite good.
Kentucky Wildcat fans have long been claimed as some of the very best in the nation, and they show how they earned that title during each and every game. Extremely knowledgeable about the game, the fans are very frequently on their feet yelling, whether it be hounding the officials or cheering on the great play of their Cats.
The only negative part of the fans at Rupp Arena is the fact that many of the fans in the lower arena are long-time season ticket holders, and, while knowledgeable and passionate, may not be as vocal as the younger crowd that is frequently seated in the upper arena. One positive piece of trivia from this setup, though, is that season tickets have been sold out since the arena opened in 1976.
Regardless of fan placement, the roar of the crowd throughout the entirety of the marquee match-ups is unparalleled in college basketball. Even if other venues seem to create a considerable amount of volume, the fact that almost 24,000 passionate fans are joining together at Rupp sets the fans a step above the rest.
There is not much parking immediately around Rupp Arena, outside of a single pay lot which fills up quickly and is a nightmare during post-game traffic. Some fans park in the parking garages in the downtown area to the northeast, while many find places on city streets within a half-mile of the venue to the southeast. As these spots get farther away, the traffic congestion immediately before and after the game is much less and can allow for a less stressful commute.
There are an adequate number of restrooms inside Rupp Arena as well as several wheel-chair accessible areas at the top of sections. Both of these allow for people of all ages to enjoy a Wildcats game in Rupp Arena.
Return on Investment 5/5
A trip to Rupp Arena will always be worthwhile for the basketball fan, even if they are stuck with seats high in the upper arena, which is extremely high for an indoor venue. The ticket prices have become increasingly expensive in recent years, with the current prices at $35 and $40 for upper and lower arena, respectively. Lower arena tickets are hard to come by without a connection, as this section is filled with season ticket holders, but the upper arena is still a great place to experience the atmosphere. The prices may not allow a casual fan to enjoy the venue repeatedly, but for a single visit to the Capital of College Basketball, these prices are well worth it and the game will not be a disappointment.
The seven national championship banners hanging in the rafters are an obvious addition. The side rafters are also filled with retired jerseys of past Kentucky greats, many of whom were All-Americans. +3 Bonus Points
Often hailed as Kentucky’s Biggest Fan, Ashley Judd frequently makes appearances at games as a celebrity ‘Y’ to cap off the spelling of Kentucky. Other well-known figures that have performed this role recently include Magic Johnson and Lebron James, and Rupp always seems to attract some interesting, famous faces. +1 Bonus Point
One final bonus point awarded for being in one of those historic venues that elicits goosebumps to any sports fan.