LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The excitement continues to build as the opening day of the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville gets closer. The October 10 date is just more than two months away and there is still much work to be done. But take a step inside, as we did on an invited tour, and you can see work is progressing.
Our tour started off at an entrance area in a garage area off of 3rd and Main that will serve as an area for trucks to unload, which will cut down on big trucks blocking the road. A hallway connects you to the main floor.
"Everybody's close," exclaimed Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson. "It's like a cocoon of chairs and seats around the wonderful playing floor."
You may not be able to get a feel for it without seeing it in person, but its' an intimate yet comfortable atmosphere around the floor. Seats are 20 inches wide, which is about 2 inches more than other venues.
"You're beginning to see the transformation of it coming very quickly together," said Jim Host, arena project manager.
But with two months to go, there's still work to be done. The main floor is still concrete and not quite all the 22,000 seats have been installed.
Also, the whopping 231 food and drink point of sales still have to be finished – which will be the most in the country for an arena. While it's still under construction, it's already being considered a success.
"We were the first arena ever to be awarded a first and second round site and a NCAA Final Four volleyball site before the arena is even finished and we've got another announcement coming up at the next meeting about another championship we've been awarded," Host said.
"I'm even more excited about the ripple affect that's occurring. The new restaurants, the new hotels, the kinds of amenities that people are investing in and around the arena facility so it's everything we hoped for and then some," Abramson said.
There is an abundant amount of meeting space in its seven stories, from suites, boxes, boardrooms, and restaurants overlooking the river.
The arena's front door also boasts all of this natural light with a view - a huge attraction for things like wedding receptions.
"I don't think any of us anticipated the demand we're getting from boards, meetings, shareholder events, etc. because of the public space we have available for rent," said Host.
The arena will also be the first to have its main floor and practice floor on the same level which will be beneficial to host events like gymnastics and volleyball.
While a huge wall surrounded by glass inside may look empty now, it will soon be the home of interactive displays of athletic hall of famers.
The unique aspects of the sprawling space may catch some people off guard.
"I think it will take folks some time to get used to it. It's like Thunder Over Louisville. The first time we had it, people didn't know where to park and didn't understand how to handle the traffic. We're now umpteen years later and people know where to park, how to access the event, and how to get out," said Abramson.
Mike Grosso, a former U of L player, is already impressed.
"I had my fan mentality standing here waiting to go in and look at it and when they opened the doors and let us go in, I reverted back to my player days even though it was more than 100 years ago," said Grosso.
The grand opening of the KFC Yum! Center is slated for October 10 with celebrations around the time including musical acts like The Eagles. Leaders also say they have book a quote huge music act in February, but can't release the name until the performer does.