Get ready for a summer of arena drama concerning Rupp Arena and the Yum! Center

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It’s not the sexiest topic to discuss and I will freely admit that 95% of this talk is way over my head and I consider myself a fairly intelligent guy.  But this summer is shaping up to be pivotal for both the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville and their arena situations.  Like I said, not a terribly sexy idea, but there should be a ton of drama on both sides here.

First, let’s talk about UK and the Rupp Arena situation.  This has dissolved into a bona fide mess and it seems that the university, the city, and the state are unable to get on the same wavelength about this project and as a result, it is affecting Lexington’s convention business with the uncertainty.  The latest development is that Lexington Center Chairman Brent Rice is giving UK’s president Eli Capilouto until May 23 to publicly throw UK support behind the project.  


Rice’s letter, which was obtained by the Herald-Leader, says the uncertainty of the project’s funding could drive up construction costs and adversely affect businesses dependent on the convention center.

Rice pushed Capilouto — whose support of the project has been lukewarm — to publicly support the project or the terms of the current lease will remain in place.

The letter gives Capilouto until May 23 (30 days) to respond. “The longer the uncertainty continues, the greater the loss,” Rice wrote.

Rice said Thursday that he has not heard from Capilouto.

The city had asked for $80 million in state bond money for the project during the past legislative session, but the legislature ultimately decided not to fund the project, saying there were too many unanswered questions.

State legislative leaders said they also were confused on whether UK backed the project. Capilouto has frequently said that his focus is on improving the academic buildings on UK’s campus.


On a sports related topic, it is pretty interesting that John Calipari has been very quiet on all of this as well.  And you have to wonder if his “coaching LeBron” message was a not so subtle shot across the bow that people needed to get together and make this happen.



Meanwhile, it appears that there is a legal battle brewing over in Louisville concerning the Yum! Center.  This report is about a week old, but apparently the Louisville Arena Authority is preparing for an emergency situation.  There have long been rumors and buzz about shady behind the scenes happenings and the apparent sweetheart deal that UL got with the Yum! Center.  And it could be blowing up soon.


What’s interesting about it all? The contract wasn’t put out for bid, leading many within the legal community and within state government to suggest that there could be semi-emergency status. And it’s for regulations and bankruptcy.

Some believe the reason for the contract is because they believe the IRS and SEC (we can’t confirm this) are in town poking around the Louisville Arena Authority and the University of Louisville Athletic Association. They believe that because neither Frost Brown Todd nor Stites & Harbison were included.

Should the arena or athletics be involved, there’d be potential conflicts of interest for Ed Glasscock and Eric Somer at FBT — Somer designed the arena contract for UofL while he was at Greenebaum but is not a partner at FBT. And Stites & Harbison because of Andy Beshear’s partnership there and his role with the Arena Authority.


Once again, I am not an expert on the situation at Louisville, but it looks like whatever happens there could at least indirectly affect the Rupp situation.  Or maybe not.  Either way, it’s going to be a long summer if the big stories are in the court rooms rather than the basketball courts.


Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

One UK player that has been on the basketball court has been Dominique Hawkins. Hawkins is on a world tour with the Sports Reach program and has played a couple of games against a Lithuanian team. Our Sports Reach heroes have not fared well so far as they are off to a 0-2 start on the trip.

In the first game, Sports Reach fell 97-92 and gave up a whopping 16 three pointers. Hawkins scored 6 points on 3-7 shooting and went 0-4 from the FT line. He added 5 rebounds, 3 steals and had 3 assists versus 1 turnover.

Sports Reach blew a seven point lead and lost 88-82. Hawkins added 8 points on 4-9 shooting and missed both his FT attempts. He did grab 7 boards, 2 steals and dished out 2 assists. There are six more games on the trip to China so hopefully Dominique can find his FT shooting groove.


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