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Local News

Committee Approves Arena Authority, Louisville Downtown Management Agreement

The Louisville Metro Council’s Budget Committee has approved an amendment that gives the Arena Authority a break on fees it owes the Louisville Downtown Management District.

The authority has been tied up in state court over whether the KFC Yum Center is an assessable entity that would owe the Downtown Management annual fees.

“From my view they are all taxpayer dollars being spent for two, what I view as, public agencies in essence to fight with each other,” said Council President Jim King.

Only public entities or agencies are exempt from owing the Downtown Management District fees for up keeping the area. Now King wants that to include the Arena Authority.

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Host To Step Down From Arena Authority

One year after the opening of the KFC Yum Center, Louisville Arena Authority Chairman Jim Host is stepping down.

Host is also chair of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement, or BEAM, which is the economic partnership between Louisville and Lexington.

“I’m a glutton for punishment,” he jokes, saying that BEAM will consume most of his time.

Host’s work with the arena authority is largely over. He oversaw the financing and construction, and the authority is now tasked with making sure the bonds are paid off. Governor Steve Beshear will appoint Host’s replacement, and Host says he’ll talk with the governor about it next month.

“That person has to have the ability of being able to develop a consensus among the board, make sure the board is kept informed, make sure that that person, he or she, understands financial numbers, make sure that they have a clear understanding of the bond issue and how it works,” says Host. “If [Beshear] asks my advice I’ll certainly give him counsel. It’s really his decision to make in terms of who he will appoint…I have a few suggestions in mind, but it might not be people he’s interested in.”

Host is willing to stay on the authority until his replacement is named, if the governor so requests.

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Local News

Arena Authority Anticipating Profits

by Sheila Ash

The Louisville Arena Authority expects the KFC Yum Center to make a profit in its first full year of operation.

The authority voted Monday to accept two proposed budgets that anticipate millions in extra revenue.

The capital budget calls for the authority to take in 1.4 million more than it will pay in debt service and the operating budget anticipates a 1.2 million dollar profit.

Arena Authority Chairman Jim Host says predictions are based on 94 events–including University of Louisville basketball games–that are currently scheduled or will be scheduled.

But Host says the firm hired to bring in concerts and events feels the facility can host even more acts per year.

“AEG says they think we can do 140,” he says. “And when they did the agreement with us and did the press conference with us they think we can do 140.  I’ll be happy if we do 110 and the budget’s based on 94, but if we did 140 it’s a big time home run.”

The budget also anticipates that Metro Government will pay 6.5 million dollars toward the arena’s debt. Host says the authority could repay up to 2.6 million dollars back to the city.

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Local News

AG Opinion: Arena Authority Violated Open Records Act

The Kentucky Attorney General’s office says the Louisville Arena Authority is in partial violation of the state’s Open Records Act.

In mid-April, Don Sherry sought access to personal information of employees of two subcontractors on the Louisville Arena project.

Sherry wanted the information because arena contract provisions require the use of local workers, including women and minorities, and the payment of prevailing wages.

While the attorney general’s office says the Arena Authority properly denied personal information like social security numbers and dates of birth, it improperly denied information like employees’ names, home zip codes, gender, race and pay rates.

The authority argued release of the data would violate privacy rights, but the AG’s office says the public’s interest in insuring the contract provisions on the partially publicly-funded arena are enforced outweigh any privacy concerns.

Any party aggrieved by the opinion may appeal to circuit court.

A spokesperson says the Arena Authority will not have any comment until they have a chance to review the opinion.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Louisville Arena Authority Looking to Commission Art

The Louisville Arena Authority is looking to install a large-scale piece of artwork in the new arena under construction at Second and Main streets. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

The Arena Authority received 75 submissions after putting out a call out to artists in November about the opportunity to create artwork for the arena, noting an anticipated budget of at least $200,000. Now, it’s requesting that five of those artists submit specific proposals for a piece to be permanently installed on the west wall of the arena’s concourse. The authority has requested that it reflect Louisville as a city “on the move.”

Jim Host is chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority.

“I think the entire Authority feels strongly that the arena should have some form of art in it,” Host says. “And we felt this wall was the best, but it’ll all be subject to us getting it funded with private dollars. It will not be funded with any public dollars from the arena bond issue.”

So far, Host says this public art project lacks funding.

“There has been no money raised toward it at this point because we want to get a better idea of what the concept might look like so we can take it to a number of people who have expressed an interest in participating in sponsoring specific artwork,” he says.

Host says authority members have some ideas about impressions they want to see in the piece.

“Our intent is to have an artist’s rendering of various scenes of Louisville and Kentucky, particularly probably centered around the river, although this will all be part of the competition,” he says.

Host says he the authority plans to choose an artist by February and raise funds by April so the work can be installed for the arena’s opening scheduled for next November.

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Local News

Norton Healthcare is First Major Arena Sponsor

Norton Healthcare is the first major sponsor of the new Louisville arena.  

The company will operate an Immediate Care Center in the arena, accessible to the public through the plaza, and two Norton First-Aid stations inside the arena for events held there.

Arena Authority chairman Jim Host says Norton also gets signage in the arena and at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium as part of the deal.  He says additional ‘cornerstone partners’ will be announced in the coming weeks, each with different roles.

“If it’s an official bank, it will be a different type of arrangement, if it’s an official soft drink, it will be a different type of arrangement, if it’s another group, it could be a different type of arrange—depends upon the cornerstone partner as to what rights they get,” says Host.

The ten-year, $10-million deal with Norton Healthcare will bring in $700,000 a year to the Arena Authority, and $300,000 a year to the University of Louisville.

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Local News

Arena Authority Postpones Sale of Bonds

The Louisville Arena Authority has postponed the sale of 360-million dollars in bonds. The check presentation had been set for today.

The special meeting was delayed when Moody’s credit rating agency put the company insuring the bonds on credit watch – meaning its credit rating could be downgraded. That temporarily halted the closing of the deal for the downtown arena project. Arena Authority Chairman Jim Host says he remains confident in the bond insurer – Assured Guaranty.

“The issue – I think – is the fact that Moody’s has a problem with the whole insure industry. It doesn’t have to do with Assured as much as it has to do with the industry,” says Host.

Host says bond underwriter Goldman Sachs has confidence the deal will go through and another meeting has been set for next Wednesday. If that doesn’t happen, Host says they have backup plans, but would not disclose them.