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Thursday, December 8, 2016

To Stay or Not To stay? Is that the question? -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


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 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'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 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 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.



  1. I realized during last night's game that even if Louisville left the Yum! Center, the atmosphere won't be the "college basketball atmosphere" that people see at Duke or GCU. Louisville's new arena wouldn't be an intimate 8,000 seat affair, because you don't get to be the perennial highest revenue program and then just go back to not making all that money. The people who pay big bucks for their seats are very welcomed by the brass and that isn't going to change.

    I also realized that Louisville men's basketball IS a professional basketball atmosphere. The giant arena, the laid back crowd, the dance team performances, it's all reminiscent of an NBA experience. I've devoted my fair share of words to blaming the fans for not being as into a game as they should be, but I think that's just how it is.

    I know that the college bball atmosphere used to very different at UofL but I think that even in the waning years at Freedom Hall it was this NBA style. If it is cyclical, maybe we will eventually see a return to a ravenous crowd, but I kind of doubt it. I think the fans will remain spectators who are there to enjoy a basketball game and be riled to their feet for only the most extreme reasons.

    I think that was apparent last week against Purdue as the Boilermakers cut the lead to under 5 with less than five minutes remaining and fans still found the courage in their hearts to hit the road. I don't really agree with it, but I don't feel like a change in scenery will really change the atmosphere that much. Until they're willing to give students more than two sections (and force half of the students to sit in the nosebleeds), nothing will be different.

    Just some thoughts that occurred to me last night and felt relevant to today's article. Feel free to disagree. I've got thick skin.

    1. I agree about the short-changing of the students, Case. I don't know if you put them at half-court or not, but they deserve both end-zones, at the very least.

      Curtis "Give the Students Good Seats" Franklin

  2. The University of Louisville can't let the Arena Commission push them around. Either play ball with the Cards or lose them.

    Curtis "Build it and they will come" Franklin

  3. Cards aren't leaving the Yum! during my lifetime (I'm 68 and the deal runs until 2044, according to Tim Sullivan at the C-J).

    The city/state/arena authority can't afford to lose the dates and I just can't see the university sinking hundreds of millions into an on-campus arena that would have to be as large/glamorous/amenity-rich as the Yum!

    As a proud U of L graduate (A&S 1970)who is also a big U of L sports fan, I feel that if the university can come up with hundreds of millions they should apply it toward education rather than toward an unnecessary arena.

  4. Good points Paulie and Case. You too, Mike D. I think this is a "pissing contest" (excuse the term) between the two parties. The thing is, Jurich has a lot more beverage available to him than the other party does. Witness Memphis many years ago, when the Tigers moved out of the Pyramid and went to the Fed Ex forum. The Pyramid is now a Bass Pro Shops superstore. See your future, arena folks? Deal the Cards a favorable hand. The Deb Factor.

    1. Not to disagree but the Griz coming to Memphis and building the Fed Ex was the factor behind the Pyramid's decline. Plus structural flaws. The City of Memphis could have made a deal for the Tigers, they chose not to and lost them. I remember the days of the Mid-South Coliseum. That was a loud, loud place next to the Liberty Bowl.

      But, leaving the KFC YUM! Center just doesn't make sense. For either side. I remember Cardinal basketball in Freedom Hall. When it was considered a premiere showcase. Both sides have made their points. I think UofL has the stronger one, though, and the city better wise up.

      Blue Lou

  5. Politicians always get greedy when they start getting criticized for arena deals that look too good for the teams. Unfortunately it's both Old and Bad News.

    I interrupted my listening to Inagadavida to to pull this classic up. Brain Salad Surgery. Among the Best Ever. Greg Lake is up there with Fogelberg in my book.

    1. LOL. THE drum solo of 1968 !! A song originally intended to be call "In The Garden Of Eden" but due to the lead singers drunken performances of it...In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida caught on.

      Excellent cut by ELP. Tarkus and Welcome Back My Friends also rule!


    2. All good songs! Stay downtown Cards. It just makes sense. Another Christmas classic that the Eagles did a good remake of is Please Come Home For Christmas. It was originally performed by Charles Brown. No, not the Peanuts one.

  6. Louisville is the #1 revenue producer in college basketball. Would it hurt them to give a few extra dollars up?

  7. Not that it is germane to the discussion, but I enjoyed the games at Freedom hall more than I do the ones at Yum. My biggest problem with the Yum is that they corral 10,000 fans out of the bottom section onto a five feet wide aisle with only four accesses to the main concourse. Freedom hall had many more accesses and very wide concourses. Freedom Hall was was welcoming to fans, Yum was built for revenue. So be it.

  8. Let go back on the campus the real fans the students body.

    1. It looks like the controversy is waning. Tom Jurich willing to work with the Arena Authority. I think it's a wrong move. Put an arena on campus and give the students good seats. How money money is enough, UofL?

  9. I'm a big fan of The Walking Dead, Paulie. Brilliantly played on the song, sir. It seems your radio station screws you guys around a lot. Have you ever thought of moving? Maybe you should change your theme song to Easy Street. AM radio in Louisville has a load of junk on the airwaves. You guys could probably find a better spot.

    Lamar wins. Nice piece on Asia, too.

    Curtis "Wouldn't want to be in cell with Daryl" Franklin

    1. thanks, Curtis. Moving would probably require going to a commercial station format, which means we would have to go out and find sponsors. We like the non-profit, community radio approach and we'll continue to work with WCHQ.



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