Thursday, December 8, 2016
To Stay or Not To stay? Is that the question? -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
SHOULD THE KFC YUM! CENTER CONTINUE TO BE BASKETBALL, VOLLEYBALL HOME?
Nestled down between 2nd and 3rd street, on the banks of the mighty Ohio River is a glistening, sparkling facility that is home to the University of Louisville's men's and women's basketball teams, the Uofl Volleyball team and a myriad of other events...ranging from concerts to circuses. It is known as the KFC YUM! Center and since 2010 the facility has hosted millions of people to watch acts ranging from The Eagles musical act to the Tennessee-Martin women's basketball Skyhawks. There have been Lions, and Tigers and Bears (oh, my!) and dignitaries ranging from Cheryl Cooper to Alice Cooper.
Is it time to go?
According to Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich...it just may be. According to a poll in Biz Journals...46% of the respondants said "You've got to be kidding me. 32% say "Yes. It's Time to go and 22% answer "No. The Cards should stay."
Jurich, you see, says the Cards no longer feel welcome at the downtown arena. Says he's not happy with the recent push by some city and state officials to alter the terms of the lease with Louisville to send more funds toward the facilities debt. Jurich didn't want to go downtown to begin with...he wanted to build a facility on the site where the Ralston-Purina silos used to stand on the bend of I-65 at Crittenden Drive. He says this could still be accomplished...which would, in effect, pull the major occupant out of downtown and on University-owned property.
Don't worry...Tom doesn't have the moving vans backed up to the loading locks down on River Road just yet...but he's getting increasingly annoyed with some city officials shooting from the hip and blaming UofL for the financial problems related to the arena.
Jurich was a team player about this in the beginning. He went along with the downtown arena concept and eventual construction...even though he pushed for an on-campus facility. Jurich has always done quite well with the on-campus concepts...witness beautiful Lynn Stadium on Floyd Street, home of the soccer teams. A badly needed rebuild of Ulmer Stadium for softball and the magnificent Jim Patterson Stadium for baseball. The addition to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. That's just a few of the improvements he's been behind since he arrived on campus in 1997.
Tom and I are the same age. I have him by a couple of months. He never saw the sleepy, little campus I attended back in the mid-seventies. Crawford Gym, Parkway Field and not much more except a few intramural fields and a bowling alley near the viaduct. He did come in at a time when the Cards were undergoing a few crises situations, though. Louisville was building Papa John's and had a 1-10 football coach. Good bye, Ron....hello John L. He brought softball to the campus. Started building facilities that would attract better athletes (and coaches). When basketball needed a young, dynamic leader...he arranged for Denny Crum to retire on his terms and brought in Rick Pitino. Jurich hired Pearsall, Young, Ferguson-Dayes, Lolla, McDonnell, Walz and Sowry. That's a pretty good list of successful people.
The guy rolls "sevens". He draws aces from the deck. He's the best thing to hit UofL Athletics since Pervis Ellison, Milt Wagner and Herb Crook showed up to play a little basketball.
If this is "saber-rattling" and an attempt to bring to light how the University feels about being bullied by some elected officials....that rattle has been heard. How long would the KFC YUM! Center be able to keep their doors open if UofL built their own multi-million dollar facility on campus and left? And, how agreeable would University officials be about sinking that sum of money into a place that would be used roughly 60 times a year but keeping ALL the profits and coffers?
It just might be the coiled rattle of a diamondback ready to strike...
The KFC YUM! Center needs the University of Louisville much more than the other way around. The businesses and restaurants in the downtown area need UofL in that building. Do you really think an NBA franchise is going to throw their hands up in the air and say...
"Oh, yes..Louisville. We love the idea of coming in there and playing in the YUM! How much money you got? Oh, you're having financing issues? 72% of your population is opposed to an NBA franchise? " (Click of phone.)
Trust in Tom. If this is a bluff...it's one that makes sense and should be listened to by Mayor Fischer and Governor Bevin. You don't change that rules and the stakes of a poker game just because you're the dealer and you're losing. You don't run the "money" off just because you're worried about future debt.
I'd love to see an on-campus site. So would the businesses, hotels and restaurants in the campus/Churchill Downs area. I know crime is pretty much everywhere these days but there have been times after covering events at the KFC YUM! Center where I haven't felt so safe and secure walking back to my vehicle long after the crowds have gone. To a vacant parking lot. No police to be found. Friends have been held up. Robberies have been attempted.
So be very careful...ye Gods of the Arena commission. Watch your step political hacks trying to make a name for yourself. You might want to listen to the man picking up the check.
He just might decide to start dining somewhere else.
A lease has been neogtiated. No swooping in six years later and saying that it needs to be re-neogitated. Especially with your prime tenant. That tenant doesn't need you.
Trust in Tom. Stand with Tom. Stand your ground, Cards.
News that musician/vocalist Greg Lake has passed away. RIP Greg. I've been a long-time fan yours...in Emerson, Lake and Palmer music and even earlier when you sang with King Crimson.
You also did one of my favorite Christmas songs.
LINK: Father Christmas -- Greg Lake
Go easy, bro.