Focal point of new arena coming from out of state

Louisville, KY - By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - From the initial development, the new downtown Louisville arena has been all about paying homage to Kentucky and Louisville; from a lot of the contractors and suppliers, to the very name itself.  It doesn't get much more Kentucky than having the arena named after the Commonwealth's famous KFC Yum! brands.

Other big sponsors include Woodford Reserve, Kentucky Ale, and OfficeWare Inc, among dozens of others that are all local.

Yet perhaps one of the most visible designs that will be inside the arena won't be from Kentucky, or anywhere near the area.

Officials with the Louisville Arena Authority announced Monday, July 19 that they have selected a new piece of art that will stretch virtually the entire length of the entryway's corridor inside the arena.

They sought designs that would incorporate several aspects of the area, like the river waves for example.

A total of 75 artists submitted a proposal for that competition, 23 of whom were from Kentucky.

However the artwork that was chosen is nowhere near Kentucky; it's coming from an artist in Phoenix, Arizona.  Al Price's artwork will call the KFC Yum! Center home.

"It is not a slap in the face at all," said Lori Meadows, who was on the panel to choose the artist. "I think that for every art commission that you do, you want to make sure that you pick the absolute best proposal for that particular piece and space. We don't' want other states to eliminate Kentucky artists, anymore than we would eliminate artists from other states."

Meadows says it was a very difficult process to narrow down the entries to just one; in fact, the field went from 75 to five before the panel was able to pick Al Price's design.

The 200 foot sculpture will consist of 50 open-metal panels built from curved stainless steel tubes.

The artwork comes at a price tag of $200,000.  It will likely not be completed in time for the October, 2010 grand opening of the arena.

At the Louisville Arena Authority's Monday meeting, officials also updated the progress of construction. They report that things continue to be on time and even ahead of schedule.

Officials say that they still have plenty of finances for any contingency that could arise between now and then. While the work continues outside, the work is also going smoothly inside.

Kitchen equipment has been installed and continues to arrive.  Finishing touches are also being put on the locker rooms. The practice court is also virtually all but complete.

Project leaders also shared a fun fact that there's more than 322 miles of electrical wiring now inside the arena, basically stretching the distance from Louisville to Chicago.

The timeline of progress is especially important to the commitments that have already been made for the arena and the list of concerts that will take place almost immediately when it opens. Officials say that aspect is also going well.

"We're sold out for The Eagles and about sold out for Justin Bieber. We have a number of other concerts that we're ready to announce fairly soon and a couple of them, the minute they are announced, we'll sell out because they are the top artists in the world," said Jim Host, Louisville Arena Authority Chairman.

Officials will give WAVE 3 News a tour of the arena in late July to track the progress inside.

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