Louisville basketball goes downtown

Downtown revitalization.

We wrote about it a lot when the observer was an editor at Louisville Magazine in the late seventies and early eighties. The next great project would be the linchpin to restoring vitality to the city center.

First, it was the Riverfront Plaza/Belvedere and the Galt House. Then came the Kentucky Center for the Arts and still another Galt House, the East version. A few years later the Hyatt Regency, the Providian Tower and the Humana Building would be completed. Something here, something there. The vast improvements on the riverfront, and the marvelous Louisville Slugger Field. The Galleria. Fourth Street Live.

None of those projects had the potential to achieve the ultimate objective. Not like constructing a new downtown basketball facility for the University of Louisville. If John Y. Brown, Jr. had had the political courage to get the ball rolling after UofL won its first national championship in 1980, this rejuvenation effort would have been much further along.

What was undone has finally been accomplished. More than 21,000 people attended a basketball scrimmage Sunday.

The KFC Yum! Center finally a reality. Four lanes of creepy, crawly traffic on Main and adjoining streets before and after the game. Nearby restaurants packed, some of them with two, even three, floors of customers.

Plans for more development in the works. Much more.

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The good thing about a complete sellout for a Louisville sporting event is that there will always be plenty of vacant seats. If one doesn’t like the seat one has, there are always others with better views.

The novelty of sitting up in Section 322 in the second to last row wore off when it became apparent that the electronic stats boards are blocked by the gridwork in the top of the arena. Much nicer view of the court from some of those empty rows court side. Nobody’s checking ticket stubs. Off we go.

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En route to the game, getting an early start because of parking concerns, recalling how relatively easy it was to get to and from Freedom Hall. Parking seven or eight blocks away for $5 at Louisville Slugger Field.

Getting out of town easily after the game, feeling sorry for the fans stuck in the parking towers and gridlock surrounding the new arena.

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For the record, here’s the first minute of basketball action in the palatial setting (from the cheap seats, but not that cheap):

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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.

One thought on “Louisville basketball goes downtown

  • October 24, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    And everyone in the area was wearing red, even the servers at Bearnos with their Go Cards teeshirts. Let’s make this an even more happening place than the blocks near the Gaylord Center in Nashville! GO CARDS!

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