Let me start by saying that the NBA coming to Louisville, KY is, at this stage, nothing more than a pipe dream. I understand the the probability of an NBA franchise relocating to to my hometown is remote and, some would say, far fetched. Conceding that point, I think it’s fair to at least consider the possibility of it happening as Mayor Greg Fischer and other civic leaders are actively campaigning to attract an NBA team to the Derby City. The reality is that the KFC Yum! Center, a facility that was built with state and local tax money and was supposed to be an economic boom to the city, hasn’t lived up to its billing. Without going into great detail here, please check out what I wrote in August about the arena’s financial woes. It can be debated what kind of economic impact a professional sports franchise has on a city or region, what can’t be understated is the dire financial situation of the Yum Center and the need for the city and state to do something to keep from defaulting on the outstanding bond debt. It sounds like a win for everyone. Well, almost everyone as University of Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich has let it be known that the UofL will do whatever it can to hinder an NBA coming to Louisville.
When the Yum Center was built, both Tom Jurich and the University of Kentucky’s former Head Men’s Basketball Coach were on the record as to not wanting the arena built downtown. And, yes, they made some concessions to turnaround and support the final location of the arena in downtown Louisville, along the waterfront. But, as has been covered before, the sweetheart deal given UofL Athletics has been overly generous, allowing the Men’s Basketball team, Women’s Basketball team and Volleyball team first choice of all dates at Yum. The only way a professional basketball team would move to Louisville (or any city for that matter), is if there was guaranteed flexibility with the scheduling of dates. So, UofL would have to make a greater concession to even make the acquiring of an NBA franchise a move from dream to reality. So far, Jurich has proven to be unwilling to do so. But is he looking at the big picture?