No disagreement between Jurich and Postel on Arena pact

No hint of any differences between Vice President Tom Jurich and Acting President Greg Postel during the special-called meeting of the board of the University of Louisville Athletic Association Thursday morning to discuss the amended KFC Yum! Center financing deal.

Greg Postel says he was keeping Tom Jurich in the loop.

A report from Kent Taylor of WAVE3 the night before suggested that Jurich had not participated in negotiations between UofL and Arena Authority, perhaps signaling a shift in power away from the athletic department. As if Jurich had been an obstacle in the negotiating process.

How that language became a part of Taylor’s report is up for conjecture. This observer believes the logical source would have been Scott Cox, the head of the Arena Authority, who has been chomping at the bit to reach an agreement with UofL. His father was the late Earl Cox, former Courier-Journal editor and he previously worked with Sen. Mitch McConnell so he’s no stranger to the media or the leaking fraternity.

Tom Jurich said he is in support of the amended financing agreement.

Based on Thursday morning’s meeting, it may well be that the administration is teaming up with Jurich, providing him with the full backing of the university. During the session, the ULAA board voted unanimously in support of providing an additional $2.4 million annually to help finance the arena bonds.

Postel said Jurich had been kept abreast of the negotiating process at every step along the way. He noted that the athletic director was briefed on the details Wednesday night after returning to town from a two-week vacation. Jurich, while obviously disappointed that the original financing was inadequate, indicated that he supported the amended agreement with the Arena Authority.

“Tom and I have been talking about this, along with Kevin Miller (senior associate athletic director/finance), since January,” said Postel. “We’ve had many conversations about this topic. There was nothing unusual in this concept that Tom was not aware of. He’s been out of town so I briefed him last night.

“What the ULAA voted to do today we did not have to do. UofL is trying to be a good partner to the community. We are doing this electively because we want to participate. We want to help. The state is contributing more, the city is contributing more so we stepping to be a community partner and to help support this facility.”

Postel said that while he recognizes the additional financial commitment from the athletic department is a strain, it is just one more significant challenge to the school at a crucial time. “We don’t view this as an ‘Us versus Them,’ we’re all UofL.”

Jurich had already departed the building but no serious observer would doubt that he does not subscribe to that conclusion.

Group wants new lease, no UofL members on arena board

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, the University of Louisville may have its own downtown basketball arena. The alarmists are out again, with the scare messages about the KFC Yum! Center.

They want to change the composition of the Arena Authority to include business people without any connection to UofL, giving preference to those with experience in arena and stadium operations. They also want to remove the right of the university to have authority to approve leasing of the arena, an arrangement that enables UofL to block University of Kentucky “home” games at the arena.

"This is the very thing the university wanted to avoid by building an on-campus arena," said William A. Stone, a member of the UofL Board of Overseers. "The group has trivialized their own efforts with the silliness of their demands.

Equally curious, they want to use the force of the Kentucky Legislature to pressure a renegotiation of the lease “to a level of fairness allowing the arena sufficient revenues to, at least, pay its expenses and annual debt service by June 30, 2013.”

Denis Frankenberger, a former local business owner, held a press conference Thursday to announce what everybody already knows — that the arena is faced with the threat of defaulting on the construction bonds. He warns that Louisville and Kentucky taxpayers will be settled with the debt.

Frankenberger says that the Arena Authority loses $33,235 per UofL men’s basketball game and $87,624 for each women’s game in the facility. He concludes that the project will never pay for itself while the the University of Louisville continues to make millions of dollars annually.

The university, it should be remembered, originally wanted an on-campus facility before caving into political pressure. The arena would never have been constructed without UofL’s involvement. Negotiations led to some of the following advantages for UofL (there are many more):

  • 88% of revenues from the lease of 71 private suites.
  • Exclusive use and control of private suites at all times.
  • Two free suites for the President and Athletic Director.
  • Arena responsible for maintenance and janitorial services.
  • All proceeds from programs and program advertisements.
  • 50% of all payments from third party concessions, including the gift shop, and catering sales.
  • All revenues from side court VIP seating ($10,000 per season).
  • 10% of all permanent signage inside and outside the arena.
  • 100% of all license fees from TV, radio, motion picture or other recordings.
  • Share equally with arena all net revenues from NCAA events.
  • Scheduling priority and priority use of the arena.
  • Discounted prices for faculty, staff, students and Letterman’s Club.

Generous to be sure. More than likely, however, UofL would have enjoyed even more amenities and financial benefits with its own on-campus arena. The city accepted UofL’s terms because city officials were desperate for a downtown arena. Now with a different administration, it’s a different tune, at least from the group headed by Frankenberger.

Expecting any kind of consensus from the community leadership, the Kentucky General Assembly, and a successful renegotiation of leasing terms is wildly optimistic and unlikely to occur. Attorneys would still be filing legal briefs a couple of years from now.

“This is the very thing the university wanted to avoid by building an on-campus arena,” said William A. Stone, a member of the UofL Board of Overseers. “The group has trivialized their own efforts with the silliness of their demands.

“It is the responsibility of the city and state to meet their financial obligations by spending money on something that is concrete and productive, as opposed to all the feel-good projects in which they get involved, ” he added, noting such examples as Light Up Louisville and Operation Brightside.

Part of the lease agreement is that, in the case of a foreclosure, UofL as the primary tenant would have 90 days to give notice to the mortgage holder that it will purchase the property on the terms and price set forth in the offer.

“That would be a fascinating possibility to consider,” he concluded.

Pick Your Louisville Arena Seat

[stextbox id=”custom”]     Now under 300 days until the new University of Louisville arena officially opens on Nov. 1.

Picked out your seats yet?

The University has unveiled an impressive new web site that enables you to select your dream seats. Prospective ticket buyers — and wishful thinkers — can go directly to any seating section for a view of the court. The place is going to be spectacular, matching the cost of the tickets.

Maybe there will be a scholarship program or a financial aid package? You wish. Anyway, go here for your 3D view.
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Louisville Arena By Night

Arena7209The lights are on  at the construction site of the new downtown arena, which will serve as the new home of the University of Louisville basketball team. The opening will be Nov. 1, 2010, a mere 486 days away. President James Ramsey awarded the U of L Presidential  Medal to Chairman Jim Host and board members of the Louisville Arena Authority this week. Here’s a link to the arena web cam.


Louisville Gear Attracts Friends, Foes

By Paul Sykes

Wear the gear and people will comment. We recently went on a “mini-vacation” to Nashville and Gatlinburg…a chance to relax, get away from it all and enjoy the splendor of the Great Smokies. I packed several Cardinal hats and shirts and proudly wore the colors as we toured.

One young man, wearing a questionable pink University of Kentucky baseball cap, assured me that UK would sweep football and basketball this year. I laughed good-naturedly and commented that he looked good in pink ...

More than ever, total strangers were coming up to me out of the blue to discuss University of Louisville sports. I heard several positive comments about Lady Cards hoops, the baseball team and the prospects of Earl Clark and T-Will in the NBA draft. An Atlanta resident informed me she was so happy that Angel McCoughtry was playing for the Atlanta Dream.

One young man, wearing a questionable pink University of Kentucky baseball cap, assured me that UK would sweep football and basketball this year. I laughed good-naturedly and commented that he looked good in pink, which drew the laughter of his sidekicks and produced a scowl and verbal obscenity from him as he slinked off.

A young lady later that evening, sporting a John Calipari T-shirt, smugly informed me “those Cardinals weren’t no damn good.” I chuckled and offered her a couple of dollars to take off the Calipari shirt and let me use it to clean off the table where we were sitting.

Rejected.

We were in an English pub on the outskirts of Gatlinburg, sampling some very tasty porters and stouts, when the proprietor of the pub walked over to our table, grinning broadly and informed me he was a transplanted Cardinal and bought our next round. Discussion turned eventually to the prospects of the football team. “Joe” isn’t a candidate to start the Gatlinburg Steve Kragthorpe fan club, believe me. If you read this, Joe, remember Sonja’s motto: Love the players, love the game.

*     *     *

Minutes later, the news flashed about Michael Jackson. For the rest of the night, the sudden death of the “King of Pop” was the buzz of the city.  The band playing in the bar even played a nicely done four or five-song tribute to the icon. Say what you will about the headline grabbing Mr. Jackson, “Rock With You” and “She’s Out of My Life” are two songs that will always bring back the memories of the beginnings of my life long love affair with the cagey lady who shyly agreed to go out on a date with me over 3o years ago.

The album “Off The Wall” was released in 1979 and several months later,  UofL won its first National Championship in basketball. It’s the only Jackson recording I’ve ever bought. I’ve even owned it in eight-track, cassette and CD.  Good times.