For months he has warned fellow fans on the Louisville Rivals message board that the bonding plan for the downtown arena was doomed. He has been cursed, laughed at, scorned and ridiculed by people who desperately want the project to succeed.
He goes by the user name of “Zipp” on the message board. He’s the guy fellow posters love to hate. His terse, sometimes vitriolic, responses to people who disagree with him have angered even objective observers. Zipp has remained adamant in his belief, ignoring the optimistic statements of Jim Host, the chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority, and Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson.
He is Kevin Zipperle, a Jeffersonville resident, who holds Master of Engineering and Masters in Business Administration degrees from U of L. Zipperle also holds a certificate in financial planning from Florida State University.
The Mayor and members of the Arena Authority have a vested interest in seeing the project succeed,” he says. “You have to filter what they say with that in mind. The downtown project represents an enormous risk to taxpayers, especially in today’s economic climate.”
It will surprise some that Zipperle is an avid U of L fan who, with his wife Debbie, is a generous contributor to the Cardinal Athletic Fund and holds season tickets to all revenue-generating sports, including women’s basketball and volleyball . They also contributed to the football practice facility and the baseball stadium.
Zipperle, a retired engineer from Brown & Williamson, says Assured Guaranty’s (stock ticker AGO) bond insurance is not worth the paper on which it is written.
“AGO is going down the same path as the prior, failed bond insurer, Ambac, which the LAA dropped late last year after they hit financial troubles; AGO’s stock has plummeted in recent months, the economy is a mess, and the arena is a major risk for the city,” he says. “The choice in locations was a monumental mistake for the city.”
Zipperle believes the university was forced to accept the downtown location against its better judgment. “I want what U of L wants, and I really don’t think they had a choice about the location,” he says. “If this effort fails, as I believe it will, I believe the arena will eventually be built closer to campus.
“I believe that will give Tom Jurich an opportunity to get done what he really wants to get done. He has made very few mistakes. I will put my trust in him rather than in a bunch of city officials who really don’t know what’s best for their community.”