M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Greg Fischer, Mayor, Louisville Metro
RE: Efforts to attract NBA franchise
Recent reports indicate that your Administration is strongly committed to positioning the community as a possible destination for a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise. The only logical site for a professional basketball team would be the KFC Yum! Center.
These efforts, if successful, could help reduce the city’s financial obligations in meeting debt payments on the arena bonds. It is commendable that you want to be proactive in resolving the issue, wanting the arena to be self-sufficient and a greater catalyst in stimulating the local economy.
University of Louisville fans are understandably interested in this effort, curious about how such a development, however remote it would appear to be, would affect the UofL basketball program. The University, as you know, originally wanted an on-campus facility, agreeing to move the program elsewhere only to make a downtown arena feasible.
There apparently have been some meetings concerning the NBA and the arena, involving local government and business leaders, as well as some former NBA players, including some who played at UofL. The agenda appears to suggest that the metro government may want more involvement in the scheduling of events and less control from the University, which is the primary tenant. Feedback indicates that metro government would not be reluctant to apply considerable political muscle to force changes.
However, your Administration has made a deliberate choice to exclude the primary tenant from participating in the meetings. This is a serious miscalculation on your part, concluding that UofL would not be amenable to working with the city on an issue that affects the entire community. Some of your confidants are providing you with ill-conceived counsel if they believe this situation can be resolved without UofL’s active involvement.
You have said that the University has to be a big winner in whatever happens involving efforts to attract an NBA team or to achieve more flexibility in arena scheduling. Whether this is factual or just a way of providing political cover in efforts to greatly diminish the economic benefits of the arena to UofL remains to be seen.
Thousands of people throughout this community take pride in the University of Louisville’s stake in the arena and will not abide anything that weakens the UofL basketball programs.
U of L must be deeply involved in any deliberations affecting the current and future management of the facility or any and all efforts to attract an NBA franchise are destined to fall on their collective face.