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Lexington mayor pledges to reimburse coal severance funds

Money used as seed fund for Rupp reinvention project

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 25, 2014) — Coal counties can expect reimbursement of $2.5 million in coal severance funds that the state used as seed money for the Rupp reinvention project, and that the city will make reimbursement part of its overall financing plan for the arena, Mayor Jim Gray said today.

“Coal severance funds are produced in coal counties and should be spent in coal counties,” Gray said. “We have a solid, conservative financing plan for the Rupp project and we will include reimbursement of the coal severance funds.”

Rupp Arena - From Main St
The reimagined Rupp Arena, a view from Main Street.

Gray thanked coal county legislators who helped advance the Rupp Project in 2012. These dollars were matched by the city. The $5 million has been used for design, architectural and engineering services, financial consultants and program management.

“I appreciate Mayor Gray’s honoring the commitment to repay the severance funds that were loaned to the city for the design phase of the project,” House Speaker Greg Stumbo said.

Because of its importance to the entire state, Gray said he continues to fight for Lexington’s request for $65 million in state funding for Rupp, which was in the House budget, but not in the Senate version.

“This is about jobs — 4,400 jobs over the course of construction, and 3,000 permanent jobs for Kentucky,” the mayor said.

Rupp Arena is 38 years old and no longer competitive, Gray said.

“We’ve heard from fans in 118 Kentucky counties. They want chair back seats, improved technology, a better scoreboard and more amenities,” Gray said. “Over 225,000 people have watched our Rupp video. A lot of people are interested in seeing this project move forward.”

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