LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Take a breath and relax.
That's the advice of longtime Republican Councilman Kelly Downard after a combative council budget meeting last Thursday led to UofL Vice President of Athletics Tom Jurich saying he thinks the university should leave the KFC Yum! Center.
"We're moving forward, all three parties," Downard said. "It's a three-legged stool."
Attorney Scott Cox represented the arena last Thursday. He explained that the Tax Increment Financing or TIF district that provides tax dollars from the surrounding area to pay for the arena is not bringing in the amount of money it should.
As a result, he asked for a restructuring of the deal which would refinance about $349 million in outstanding bond debt and lock the city into paying
$10.8 million a year, the maximum allowed in the current contract.
Cox pointed out the city already pays the maximum but council members were upset they'd be locked into the rate for 20 years. The minimum allowed in the current contract is $6.5 million.
"The University of Louisville has done their part and that's the thing that really disappoints me so much is that they've changed the whole conversation to blame it on the University of Louisville, and I think that's criminal," Jurich said Saturday on WLOU.
"I'm tired of it. We're tired of all the rhetoric. If they don't want us, just tell us. We'll leave. I'd love to build one on the silo site."
When one of the hosts pointed out that UofL leaving the KFC Yum! Center would be devastating to the city, Jurich said he thinks the school should pull out.
"Well I think we should," Jurich said. "I don't think we're wanted down there so I think we should leave."
The school signed on to play 30 basketball seasons at the arena. Downard said the school would never leave.
"Not gonna happen," Downard said. "That's a theoretical that I'm not going to approach. They're a team member and they'll remain a team member."
While council members said the deal works too much in the favor of the school, Jurich said the city is the true winner.
"They've gotten a lot of benefit out of it. I mean look what it's done for downtown," Jurich said. "Look what it's done for the hotel rooms that have been built around it. Where did this new Omni come from? Do you think they would've come done there without the Yum! Center?"
"The other night I was a little disappointed at some of my colleagues," Downard said. "They took aim and took shots, cheap shots in some cases."
Again, his advice is to just breathe.
"This thing is going to work out," Downard said. "We all come out ahead on this thing and we need to make sure we still do."
The ordinance on the KFC Yum! Center is next up this Friday in council's budget committee meeting.