Convention / Entertainment

Central Bank Center - Rupp Arena

Project Description:


In 2018, the Lexington Center Corporation (“LCC”) authorized the renovation and expansion of the existing convention center and its supporting amenities. Located on Main Street in downtown Lexington, KY, the new Central Bank Center is now one of the region’s premier convention facilities. The approximately $300 million project includes:


  • 100,000 square feet of exhibit hall space

  • New 24,000 square foot multi-purpose ballroom

  • 16 meeting rooms of various sizes and configurations totaling 25,000 square feet

  • 9,000 square foot commercial kitchen

  • Public entrance/pre-function spaces off Main Street and High Street

  • New parking/loading dock/service structure west of Rupp Arena, as well as a new central utility plant

  • Several upgrades to Rupp Arena, including:

  • The replacement of a portion of the upper bowl bleacher seating with chair-back seating

  • Four new hospitality club areas

  • Renovation and enhancement of the building's façade and exterior design


In addition to the Central Bank Center renovation and expansion, the LCC also authorized the future development of the nearby 17-acre surface parking lot (“High Street Parking Lot”) with complementary mixed-use components.


CE Role:


CE is assisting LCC in multiple roles related to the Central Bank Center renovation and the planned future development of the adjacent High Street Parking Lot.


Financial Advisory


CE was engaged as financial advisor by LCC in 2016 to develop a comprehensive plan of finance to fund the estimated $300 million project. Project funding was achieved through a combination of grants from state and local government along with over $200 million of debt obligations, which leverage several revenue sources as credit support. With the Kentucky Bond Development Corporation (“KBDC”) serving as a conduit issuer, three series of bonds were issued. The $110.9 million Series 2018 Convention Facilities Revenue Bonds are secured by various revenues generated by the Central Bank Center, including revenues at Rupp Arena from the University of Kentucky men’s basketball program, convention facility/space rentals, the Opera House, parking, and other related operational revenues. The other two series of bonds, the Series 2018A (senior series) and the 2018B (subordinate series) Transient Room Tax Revenue Bonds, are secured solely by a pledge of 4% of the local transient room tax, which is dedicated to LCC for operations and repayment of debt obligations associated with the facilities.


In April 2020, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, CE anticipated fiscal difficulties and approached LCC and Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (“LFUCG”) with a plan of action to avoid a default on outstanding debt obligations. In August 2020, taxable bonds were issued through the Lexington Public Facilities Corporation and were secured by a lease with LFUCG. These bonds provided budgetary relief through 2022 by servicing certain principal and interest payments due on the prior debt obligations issued in 2018. Subsequently, with the substantial completion and operation of the new and renovated facilities, CE is assisting LCC with the ongoing management of their outstanding bonds, including an updated private activity analysis and other matters.


Incentive Consulting


Since 2016, CE has served as TIF adviser to the LCC as it sought to redevelop its facilities and its adjacent 17-acre surface parking lot. In this role, CE has advised LCC how to utilize the TIF program in furtherance of its mission to enhance the community through improvements to its properties. In doing so, CE:


  • Developed financial analyses related to proposed redevelopment initiatives

  • Managed an RFQ process to generate interest from the private development community in the High Street Parking Lot site

  • Worked with LCC and LFUCG to create the TIF Development Area and apply for State TIF participation

  • Resulting in a $41 million state award in addition to local tax participation

  • Manages all ongoing compliance requirements on behalf of LCC, keeping them in position to fully realize the eligible incentive award

  • Managed an RFP process at the direction of LCC to select a preferred development team for the High Street Parking Lot site

Power in Numbers

Lexington, KY

$41,000,000 / $207,920,000

Signature TIF / Bond Issuance

Municipal Advisor & TIF Consultant