Moody's puts Louisville Arena Authority on bond rating watchlist

Garret Petters
Garret Petters
Uric Dufrene
Uric Dufrene

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Moody's Investor Service is keeping an eye on one of the largest and most notable building projects in downtown Louisville. On December 13, Moody's put the Louisville Arena Authority on a watchlist for a possible bond rating downgrade regarding the KFC Yum! Center. The reason is because local businesses aren't bringing in as much money from taxes as predicted.

Doc Crow's is a restaurant just a few doors down from the arena.  

"We usually fill up every night," said Garret Petters, general manager at Doc Crows. "Sometimes it surprises us, so we staff to be busy every night."

It opened February 2011 in the bounce back of a recession.

"Looking at our numbers for the year, we've well exceeded all expectations," said Petters.

It's not just Doc Crows that's doing well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are more jobs in leisure and hospitality in Louisville now compared to a year ago.

"Leisure and hospitality has increased by 5,000 (people)," said Uric Dufrene, IU Southeast Sanders Chair in Business.

That's for the entire Louisville region to include downtown, but the downtown businesses near the KFC Yum! Center, aren't making as much as the Louisville Arena Authority projected when getting financing, which is why they are on a watchlist.

"It doesn't mean that those downtown establishments aren't doing well, it just means that the amount of activity that was being forecast is being materialized," said Dufrene.

Dufrene explains that the current bonds are investment grade, which is relatively safe, but if it were to drop, it would become more risky, which could impact investors.

"If you sell the bond, prior to when the bond matures, and many investors do sell bonds prior to maturity an increase in risk could result in a lower price, and then you could suffer a loss," said Dufrene.

Hilliard Lyons has invested millions into the arena.  A spokesperson tells WAVE 3 they are unable to comment because of the holiday, however, will discuss it Tuesday.  Stay tuned to WAVE 3 for the latest on this developing story.

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