Lexington Mayor Jim Gray has suspended efforts to renovate the home of the University of Kentucky men's basketball team.
The proposed $351 million project to renovate Rupp Arena and build a new convention center in downtown Lexington has languished for some time.
Gray said Wednesday he suspended work on the project after UK withdrew its support for a proposed annual $10.7 million lease on Rupp, beginning in 2018. Gray said officials had designed the proposed renovation based on what the university said it needed.
Gov. Steve Beshear said he still thinks the original project is what Lexington and the university need. The governor said he hopes UK will eventually be ready to move forward with the project.
UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the university did not have any immediate comment.
The mayors of Lexington and Louisville believe Kentucky needs a local option sales tax to stay competitive. The tax is levied temporarily to finance public infrastructure projects, but an opinion issued this week by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office says voters would first need to approve a constitutional amendment.
According to the opinion, local governments nor the General Assembly may enact a local option sales tax without changing the state constitution. The Courier-Journal reports the opinion was requested by the Louisville Metro Council. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray want counties to be able to locally increase the statewide sales tax and use the additional revenue for public projects. Voters would have to approve the tax and the projects it would fund in a local referendum.
In an opinion issued Monday by Attorney General Jack Conway, the first step would be amending the state constitution.