One Arena Finance Committee Member Questions Numbers

By Justin Wilfon

(LOUISVILLE) -- The Arena Finance Committee has been in the process of determining the financial feasibility of building a proposed arena at the LG&E property on the waterfront. On Tuesday committee members examined a cost comparison between the downtown location versus the back-up site -- the Fairgrounds. WAVE 3's Justin Wilfon was there.

PricewaterhouseCoopers presented revised numbers, although they didn't change much. Building the arena at the LG&E property downtown is still projected to projected to cost about $100 million more than the Fairgrounds site.

But there was an even bigger development toward the end of Tuesday's meeting, when Gov. Ernie Fletcher sent a letter to the Finance Committee that indicated his full endorsement of the downtown site.

Fletcher says he believes the economic impact of a downtown arena location would be so great that the state could offer up to $75 million bond to help pay for construction of the arena. However, this would have to be approved by the General Assembly.

At least one of the General Assembly's members, Rep. Larry Clark, D-Louisville -- who is part of the Arena Finance Committee -- believes PricewaterhouseCoopers is slanting the numbers in favor of a downtown location, while ignoring some of the other sites.

"I think they inflate them in some areas, and say less in the others. So I'm really concerned about if they're really working independently," Clark said.

The consulting firm says an arena on the LG&E site would cost $344 million, but Clark says even that number might be low.

"I worked construction for 41 years," Clark said. "I've worked on powerhouses. I've worked downtown. I think those numbers are soft."

Mayor Jerry Abramson says the firm was selected to "lay out objective figures. You got to have a base that we all believe in. They're the ones that were selected, they're the ones presenting it. Those are the figures we have."

At one point during Tuesday's meeting, Clark basically said that he has lost faith in the committee's job to carry on the process.

Despite Clark's concerns, Mayor Abramson says he believes the war may already be over. "It seems to me that this local community, and this governor of the state of Kentucky, are more in-synch than we've been in a long time."

The committee is scheduled to meet again on Friday, September 23rd.

Online Reporter: Justin Wilfon

Online Producer: Michael Dever