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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The KFC YUM! Center

WEDNESDAY @ C.C. University of Louisville Basketball season ticket holders were invited to tour the KFC YUM! Arena in downtown Louisville and CARDINAL COUPLE was there to bring you these photos from inside the arena. I arrive at the Arena around 3:30 p.m. and find that there is parking underneath the facility. Park the car, walk to the elevator and up to the lobby. The first glimpse is impressive and breath-taking. The lobby space is so large and high and open. Right off the bat, I run into the Afternoon Underdogs, Tony Vanetti and Dave Jennings, doing their radio show live from the lobby. I had been listening to them on the way to the we stop by.Vanetti pats me on the back...indicates he is on the air listening to a caller and we shake hands and I move on. In the lobby, there are two that takes you to the 100 level seating and another that goes upstairs to the 300 level. I take the 100 level

escalator and enter a concourse that has plenty of food vendors and a wide open walking area. I walk toward the inside concourse that circles the floor and run into one of my yellow shirted CARDS CARE buddies. Tom gives me the customary hard time, we talk a bit and he directs me to where I'll be sitting for the basketball game. I gaze out on the court and I circle in a counter-clockwise direction until I get to my section. The floor looks absolutely beautiful and I look up at the higher areas of the arena and come to the conclusion that there really isn't a bad seat in this place. I get to my section and walk down the steps to my seat. I have a great view of the court, sit in my seat...which is an aisle seat...and snap a few photos with my cell phone. I take a couple of minutes to just view the whole arena from my vantage point. I look up at the scoreboard and I'm amazed on how clear the big screen definition is. A replay of the Louisville

men's team final game in Freedom Hall is on the screen and I watch Pitino coach for awhile. There is an exit very close to where I sit that leads to a downstairs bar and restroom facilities. I make a note to go check that out while I'm here and walk down the arena steps to the floor. Security is present and I talk with one of the personnel and request a chance to view the media area. After he checks out my CARDINAL COUPLE business card, he escorts me back into the area beneath the seats where the practice court is located. The locker rooms are there, too and the media area also. We go thru a couple of security checkpoints...this area has limited access...and I arrive at the media room. Amazing. It has plenty of room for the podium, media seating and high definition LED flat screens everywhere. A work area for the media has over 100 work stations with comfy chairs and full hookups for broadband, telephone and electrical

plug in's. There are a couple of fax/copiers in the room and it is well lit. I almost cry in joy...recalling the Freedom Hall media area and how much better this is here at the YUM!

(Ellis and Shirley Blanton try out their
women's basketball seats.)

My security escort leaves me...he's confident I can find my way around and he had plenty to I wander down the hall and I check out the practice facility. A nice floor, six baskets and offices for both the men and women's coaches as well. The locker rooms are closed and the women's basketball team practices in the arena at 6 p.m. so I don't get access to those areas. I chat with another security guard...there are entrances and exits from the underground hallways to the underground parking lot and a special entrance for the media as well. I walk back toward an entrance to the main court and see UofL women's basketball assistant coach Michelle Clark-Heard. She smiles and greets me and I just shake my head and smile.

"It's pretty amazing, isn't it?" she laughs and I nod in agreement. I walk up the steps and back out to the court. Standing next to it, I gaze up at the seating areas and lighting above. What I wouldn't give for one chance to lace up the Nike's and plod up and down this mecca. I walk around the court and run into Bill and Barbara Hancock (pictured right) who I've sat with at men's and women's basketball games for many years. We check out the view from the seats..Bill is a little concerned about the view from our aisle seats...but otherwise we're in amazement about this incredible facility. We talk a bit more and I'm anxious to go back to the court, so I wander down by the area where the media will watch the game. I run into UofL Card Game website owner Charlie Springer and we stand
beneath one of the baskets...looking at sight lines, discussing the arena and recalling the old days at Freedom Hall. Charlie's got his wife Barbara with him and his trusty tape recorder and camera and he's waiting to catch a few
of the Lady Cards warming up before
practice. I offer to take him on a tour

of the media area and the three of us go back down to that area after I spend a little time talking with the Blanton's and another yellow clad CARDS CARE volunteer about the arena.

After a bit, we return to the court, where I caught Becky Bonner, UofL's Director of Basketball Operations rolling out beverages for the practice and giggling while trying to avoid me taking her picture. Not fast enough, Becky. She's pictured to the right. I also see student assistant coach Laura Terry preparing for the practice and she stops to give me a smile and pose as she attends to her duties. Fans will remember Laura from her three years of hard work as a member of the Lady Cards basketball team. 62 games and 3 years of effort.
We've got her photo over on the left side of the site.

I could go on for hours about the rest of the day in KFC YUM! but we'll just leave you with a few photos and let you know that it was a magical, exciting day.

(The Evan Williams Bourbon Bar)

(The view from section 301)

(The scorboard, as viewed from Section 116)

(Floor shot from the same section)

(Cardinal guard Shelby Harper poses for CARDINAL COUPLE during warmups.)

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