Local News

Louisville Arena Named KFC Yum! Center

by Stephanie Crosby

The downtown Louisville arena has been named the KFC Yum! Center. In a $13.4-million dollar, ten-year agreement with the Louisville Arena Authority, Yum Brands is the naming sponsor for the home of the University of Louisville’s basketball teams.

Yum Chairman and CEO David Novak says it was a win-win situation for both parties.

“Clearly, this is great for Louisville and the financing of this arena, but it’s also great for us because we’re going to get great name recognition here in the community,” says Novak. “This is also going to be a place where you’re going to see some fantastic basketball in the regionals and there will be some national publicity. But the big news for us is that this just gets us more entwined in a community we really love.”

The deal also grants Yum Brands the rights to sell KFC and Taco Bell products inside the arena, and Pizza Hut products during non-university-related events.

Arena Authority Chairman Jim Host says they’ll start the process of changing the arena’s signage and logos today.

The KFC Yum! Center is still on track for completion and opening in November.

Local News Next Louisville

Milestone Marked On New Arena Construction

By Rick Howlett

Construction of Louisville’s new downtown arena reached a turning point Monday with a topping off ceremony at the facility.             

A large beam signed by construction workers, government officials and University of Louisville leaders was hoisted to the top of the arena, signifying the final piece of structural steel to be put into place.

Among the speakers was Governor Steve Beshear, who said the facility has already begun to generate new business ahead of its opening.

“Two major conventions, expected to create $10 million in local spending and bring 30,000 people to Louisville, have already been landed. In addition, the arena will be the site of the NCAA Division I national women’s volleyball championship,” Beshear said.

The arena is scheduled to open November 1, five years after a task force was appointed by then-Governor
Ernie Fletcher to get the project moving. Mayor Jerry Abramson says there were some at the time who doubted that enough money or political will could be generated to make it a reality.

“Some people criticized our plan to put the arena downtown on the site of a power plant. It would cost too much they said, it was too dangerous to relocate the power lines. We proved them wrong and showed that it was possible in Louisville, Kentucky,” Abramson said.

The arena’s primary tenants will be the University of Louisville basketball teams. 


Local News

Arena 'Topping Off' Ceremony Today

by Stephanie Crosby

The final piece of structural steel will be lifted into place on the downtown Louisville arena today. A ‘topping off’ ceremony is set for this afternoon. It’s closed to the public.

Arena General Manager Ted Nicholson says it will include arena, city and university leaders.

“We’re going to celebrate it by having the final structural piece of steel lifted up in front of dignitaries and the arena workers, after they have actually signed the beam,” says Nicholson, “and it will have a flag with it and a small tree.”

The tree symbolizes respect for the earth, and will be planted in Waterfront Park after the ceremony.

The arena is set to be fully enclosed by April and opened in November.

Local News

Host Presents Arena Traffic Plan to Council Committee

by Stephanie Crosby

The traffic plan for the new Louisville arena was presented to a Metro Council committee this afternoon. The plan was originally released in January, but the council requested a presentation by Arena Authority Chairman Jim Host.

Host says there will be wrinkles to work out when the arena opens in November.

“Will it be a mess the first four or five games? Yep. Why? Because people are going to be unfamiliar with it,” says Host. “Once they get familiar with it, this will be one of the most effective, sound arenas ever built in terms of parking, transportation, traffic, etc.”

Host says they’re still working with Metro Police to finalize a plan that will utilize officers directing traffic. It still isn’t clear how many officers they’ll need, whether they’ll be on or off-duty officers, or how much it will cost the Arena Authority.

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.

Local News

Arena Project Adds Four Sponsors

The Louisville arena project has added four sponsors to its rolls – making its total sponsorship deals reach nearly 23-million dollars. The new sponsors are McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, the Galt House Hotel and the Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen.

Chairman Jim Host says it puts the arena authority ahead of where he thought it would be at this time in terms of courting sponsors.

“We were tickled to death with the 4.5 million dollars that was announced,” says Host. “It gets us close to 23-million dollars in commitments and puts us ahead of the pace that we thought we would be at this point in the arena progress.”

Also this morning, the arena authority announced a grant for more than 900-thousand dollars from the James Graham Brown Foundation. The money will be used to design and construct a fountain for the center of the arena’s plaza.

Local News

Arena Construction Workers To Soon Number About 600

Construction of Louisville’s new downtown arena is expected to move into a new phase soon as crews continue enclosing the facility and Second and Main Streets.           Arena

Arena Authority Chairman Jim Host says that means the number of workers on the job will also rise sharply.

“(There are) close to 400 on the site now, and that number is going to go to 600 pretty quickly, as you begin to see the steel and they start the infrastructure internally. You won’t recognize the site again in a couple of months,” Host said.

At its regular meeting Monday, the authority heard the results of an economic impact analysis. It found that by next year, the arena will have spurred 30 other development projects in the area, valued at more than $473 million.

The new arena is scheduled to open in November of 2010.

Click here to see a webcam view of the arena site and time lapse photography of the construction.

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.

Local News

Arena Sales Team Soliciting Business

Louisville’s new downtown arena won’t open for another two years, but officials say marketing efforts for the facility are well underway.

Arena Authority Executive Director Harold Workman says a sales team has gone to work to bring events to the arena at Second and Main Streets.

“They are actively pursuing four or five leads right now of trade shows and conventions that want to use the arena as part of their convention when they come to Louisville,” Workman said
at Monday’s authority meeting.

Workman says some organizations are interested in using the arena for large gatherings and the nearby Kentucky International Convention Center for smaller meetings and exhibits. Both facilities will be operated by the Kentucky State Fair Board.

He says the marketing team is also in talks to bring some national amateur athletic events to the facility. And it’s expected to attract concert tours that might otherwise bypass Louisville.

The University of Louisville basketball teams will be the arena’s primary tenants.