All ideas on the table for a sought-after Louisville NBA franchise

Group wanting Louisville NBA team looks past KFC Yum! Center for other options

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The group attempting to bring an NBA franchise to Louisville had touted the KFC Yum! Center and downtown Louisville as the ideal home for a future team. But that plan could change.

Former ABA and NBA All-Star Dan Issel, spokesman for the group NBA2LOU, said Wednesday night at an informal gathering of investors that a Louisville NBA franchise could play elsewhere.

“UofL has a great lease there (the KFC Yum! Center),” Issel said. “I don’t know if an NBA team would be able to play there under the current conditions. But we have a backup plan.”

That back up plan would have the proposed team abandoning the idea of playing downtown.

UofL is the main locked-in tenant at the KFC Yum! Center for the next couple of decades.

UofL has a contract with the KFC Yum! Center that dominates the arena's scheduling.
UofL has a contract with the KFC Yum! Center that dominates the arena's scheduling. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

The university dominates scheduling for the 22,000 seat arena, it’s 70 premium boxes and 72 luxury suites.

The NBA2Lou website describes the KFC Yum! Center as a “modern, high-capacity arena that is more than adequate for an NBA team. It’s already built, and very few updates would be needed…"

Issel said discussions are underway with two real estate developers, looking at the possibility of renovating the fairground’s Freedom Hall and surrounding area. But Issel pointed to other expensive arena renovation projects in the U.S. and said the plan might be too costly.

“Renovating Freedom Hall might not be the way to go because of the cost factor,” Issel said. “But there would be other places available to build a new arena as well.”

Kenny Klein, Sports Information Director for UoL, said no one has approached or talked to UofL about sharing the downtown arena with an NBA team.

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