A return to Freedom Hall should be a good experience, a nostalgic trip down memory lane, with all the great University of Louisville basketball history embodied in the facility.
The occasion was for the Rascal Flatts concert, a birthday gift for Barbara, the country music lover. The first time we were to be there since UofL had taken up a new residence on Main Street. Great show, incredible graphics and sound effects.
Freedom Hall, however, has become a rather dreary place. The ceiling tiles are dirtier than we remembered, and dozens of them are missing altogether. The hand rails are wobbly in many locations, and some of the seats appeared to have been repaired using duct tape.
The overall feel of the place is dirty and musky, as if only the Fair Board makes a minimum investment in terms of housecleaning and maintenance. One always has to wonder about rodent and pest control in such an environment.
Sitting between the old Fairgrounds Stadium and the vacant amusement park, Freedom Hall appears to be the latest victim of lack of care and neglect.
We’re a little surprised the horsey crowd still wants to keep holding championship equestrian events there. And we have to wonder if the unkempt atmosphere may have been a factor in the University of Kentucky basketball program passing on games there.
The state has invested tons of money in the fairgrounds property in terms of exposition space but apparently very little in what was once the crown jewel of college basketball. The space still has potential for other sports franchises but not in its present condition, which is pretty sad, bordering on abandonment.
All the UofL banners are still hanging in the rafters. But they are no longer in a place of honor.