Zev Buffman is not a familiar name to University of Louisville fans unless they also follow the Miami Heat NBA franchise or the Broadway theatre scene. However, he has been intimately involved in a project new and dear to them.

Buffman is a member of the Louisville Arena Authority, bringing with him vast experience in sports and entertainment. He was founding general partner in the Miami Heat franchise, spearheading their entry into the NBA and the planning and construction of the Miami Arena in just 16 months.

However, he is best known for having produced over 40 Broadway shows, introducing such “first timers” as Dustin Hoffman and Elizabeth Taylor to the theatre. He also built and/or managed 15 Performing Arts Centers, including the historic Saenger Theatre of New Orleans and the Jackie Gleason Performing Arts Center in Miami.

He arrived in Owensboro three years ago where he plans to retire, developing the RiverPark Entertainment Center, which has drawn Broadway touring companies.

He has high expectations for the downtown U of L arena, as he told the Business Journal of Louisville:

“I feel, when I go to Louisville, that I’m in an active, bustling downtown already,” he said, pointing to the city’s downtown hotels, restaurants and improved waterfront as examples of local progress.

“Usually, the arena comes first or early in the restoration or resuscitation of a downtown,” he added. “In this case, it’s coming while so much more is planned or on the ground. It’s a different feeling. There is more confidence.”

He predicted that the coming arena will be “a true signature piece you’ll start seeing on postcards around the country.”

Buffman, an Israeli soldier in his youth, is a recognized name in Los Angeles, New York and Los Angeles. Been around, knows whereof he speaks.

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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.