Downtown Arena Haters Smell Blood

The word is that Goldman-Sachs has canceled the deal with Assured Guaranty, and the bonds are reportedly being pulled from the market. With a troubled economy, the high costs, and the inability to acquire bond insurance, the future of the project is uncertain for now.

If so, it’s a major setback for the University of Louisville. The nation’s most profitable basketball program deserves a state-of-the-art, first-class arena. What was really remarkable was how the project cleared so many hurdles:

— A promise of a $75 million grant from a Kentucky Governor.

— Approval of the grant from the Kentucky General Assembly.

— The withdrawal of David Jones and John Schnatter’s opposition to the Riverfront site.

— The creation of a tax incentive plan (TIP) district to help shore up the project.

— Approval by the Louisville Metro Council.

— The removal of the LG&E power grid station.

— The implosion of the Humana office building.

— A design that would have clearly delineate U of L’s position as a driving force in this community.

— A community largely coming together on the need for a new arena.

Bonding problems aside, some downtown arena bashers apparently have never gotten over that a site on or near the U of L campus was not picked. They use every opportunity to lampoon the project, unable to acknowledge the enormous benefits of a downtown location for the program and the community. Worries about out-of-control costs are understandable, but we suspect that their feigned  concern about finances is secondary for some of the anti-downtowners.

This observer spoke in favor of an on-campus arena during the hearings. A campus arena would have done  wonders for Belknap Campus, opening up all kinds of opportunities for new development, including dormitories, research facilities and beautification. When the idea of a campus facility was dropped, the next logical step was to get behind the downtown site.

The community may have to go back to the drawing boards again unless Jim Host pulls another rabbit out of the hat. That would truly be a miracle.

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

2 thoughts on “Downtown Arena Haters Smell Blood

  • July 24, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    What are you saying? Is the Arena not going to happen? Say it isn’t so.

  • July 25, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Linda, who really knows what to think about this project anymore? I’m sure they went the bond insurer route because it was the cheapest way. Restructuring the deal and possibly getting seven or eight local banks to pony up the money sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare. Worsening the situation would be the possible involvement of the Metro Council in approving a new deal.

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