Study claims KFC Yum! Center is $500M+ economic engine - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Study claims KFC Yum! Center is $500M+ economic engine

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A new study claims the KFC Yum! Center has generated more than half a billion dollars in growth and taxes since opening on October 10, 2010. A new study claims the KFC Yum! Center has generated more than half a billion dollars in growth and taxes since opening on October 10, 2010.
Brandy Brangers Brandy Brangers
Mayor Greg Fischer Mayor Greg Fischer
CSL consultant John Kaatz CSL consultant John Kaatz
Metro Council President Jim King Metro Council President Jim King

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The debt service is about $350 million, but a new study claims the KFC Yum! Center has generated more than half a billion dollars in growth and taxes since opening on October 10, 2010.

Cher's Dressed to Kill Tour not only took the KFC Yum! Center crowd over-the-top Monday, it helped dozens of fans find their way to Bearno's By The Bridge.

"It was an older crowd that tends to stay and spend," manager Brandy Brangers said. "We get a lot of business from the classic rock concerts and country concerts."

"The numbers really don't have an agenda," Mayor Greg Fischer told reporters Wednesday. "If you drill down on them enough, they will tell you the truth."

Some may call the KFC Yum! Center the House of Cards, but a study by the consulting firm Conventions, Sports & Leisure International confirmed the University of Louisville's men's basketball games have drawn slightly less than half of the 839,000 visits to the Center since it opened.

"You're building a destination," CSL consultant John Kaatz said Wednesday. "It's more than come in for a show, get the heck out of town, it is a real destination."

"The arena generated an estimated economic impact of $347 million in direct spending and $580 million in total output for its first four years of operation, supporting 8,400 full and part-time jobs," reads a news release from the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau announcing the results of the study.

The study found out-of-town visitors spend between $118 to $143 on tickets, parking, meals and incidentals. That average could more than double if a non-conventioneer is persuaded to spend the night in a hotel to take in other attractions and meals. At present, between 11 and 26 percent of such visitors pursue that option.

"Not only is this arena paying for itself, but it's also generating close to $600 million in economic impact," Metro Council President Jim King said.

Not quite. The KFC Yum! Center still finished 2013 about $11 million short of the revenues needed to service its bond debt. The shortfall was almost $17 million in 2012.

"If I had it all to do over again, knowing what I know now, I would do it every bit of it," King said. "If we can maintain the level of growth, it will be paying for itself within five years.

Some 1,400 additional hotel rooms will allow downtown to accommodate convention crowds forty percent larger than present, Mayor Fischer said.

Brangers had one suggestion. "Book more concerts together instead of such a gap between each one of them," she said. "That would probably help out business for everyone around here."

Kaatz believes the KFC Yum! Center will be more successful if it books a variety of attractions.

"There's a lot of calendar space," the consultant explained. "You don't have to sacrifice smaller events for Bruce Springsteen. You can do both. "

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