Louisville Metro Council President Jim King has responded to Card Game about his being “cautiously skeptical” about the arena financing options, saying that his response was taken out of context by the Business First report. King indicates that while he wants to see the arena built, he urges caution in the decision-making process to avoid unnecessary costs for taxpayers. Here’s his response:

“My comment about being cautiously skeptical was in response to a question about additional costs to taxpayers.  I’m only on the Louisville Arena Authority Board as a taxpayer representative.  I was not appointed by the Mayor or the Governor.  Given the credit markets today and the number of exotic structures that have already been attempted, a healthy dose of skepticism is appropriate when my duty is to protect taxpayer dollars.  If you attended the LAA Board meetings instead of just reading Business First, you would have heard me request an analysis of the financial projections by an independent CPA firm at our last meeting.  I can’t let my being a rabid UofL fan distract me from that duty.  However, if you read the Courier-Journal, you would have seen that I said I believe this will ultimately get done because it has several reliable revenue sources.

 “My bank is not involved in the financing since it could create a conflict of interest for me.  I’m there to protect the taxpayers to make sure they get the best deal possible without being an impediment to the arena.  As for my involvement in the financing negotiations, I’ve not been invited or asked to participate.  I am only informed after the fact of the alternatives being considered.  Mr. Host is driving that entire process, traveling to New York, meeting with lawyers and Goldman Sachs.  He’s working very hard on this.  The LAA finance committee meets as requested by Mr. Host to review and approve the options he provides.

 “I am hopeful we get our new arena but I’m not so desperate for it that I want the taxpayers to overpay for it.  If we have to delay it a few months until the credit markets stabilize so that we can get a “normal” deal, then that’s what we should do.  Exotic financing arrangements could add to the risk for the taxpayers and I would have to be skeptical until I’m allowed to review the associated costs and risks.”

We appreciate the straight forward response by Jim King, helping to put his role in the project in a much better perspective. If, as he suggests, a decision on the financing options is delayed for a few months, the arena would probably not be ready before the 2011 basketball season.

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By Charlie Springer

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

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