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Forbes Sports Business Blogger to Write Piece on NBA Relocation: Is Louisville A Top Choice?

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Darren Heitner is writing a piece in Forbes on NBA relocation. In preparation for his article, he is seeking fan responses on twitter of which city should be at the top of the list for a new NBA team. So far, Louisville is crushing the rest of the competition, with Seattle as a very distant second, followed by Virginia Beach, Kansas City, London, and Nashville. Here are the exact results so far:


Whether or not you think Louisville’s the best place for an NBA team, I don’t think you can argue that it has the most passionate supporters. I would, however, also argue that Louisville is the best place for a team on this list. Seattle has been there, done that, and couldn’t keep a team. Virginia Beach  doesn’t have an arena built and a team would have to temporarily play in 12,000-seat Richmond Coliseum, which might be even less feasible than a team playing at Freedom Hall.  Kansas City has an arena built, but not one as nice as the Yum Center and not in a basketball-crazed state. Kansas City, as well as Nashville, also already have major league sports franchises. The formula for success in smaller market NBA cities has been at places where there is no other Major League competition, such as Oklahoma City, Salt Lake City, Portland, and Memphis. And why make the risk of going out to London when you have a world-class facility right here in Louisville, in arguably the best state for basketball in the country, which has no other Major League team?

Yes, college basketball will always reign supreme in our state, but it would not stop an NBA team from being successful in Louisville. Even though our college teams already have greater followings than a lot of NBA teams, most average fans can’t often get into Rupp Arena or the Yum Center. Typically, the only time a significant number of tickets are available to non-students or non-season-ticket holders at Rupp Arena are in December during Christmas break, when students are away. There’s plenty of good folks in our state who would like to spend a reasonable amount of money to see the best basketball players in the world, and by the way, a bunch of former Kentucky Wildcats as well. There’s only a few opportunities a lot of people have to see the Cats in Rupp Arena for a price they could afford (yes, NBA tickets are much more affordable on average). I haven’t even touched on the amount of people an NBA team would bring in to the state of Kentucky from surrounding states for 41 days of the year, but the notion that people in our own state couldn’t afford to support an NBA team is a myth. 

Simple question to you: would you spend $10 to see MKG play and get all-you-can-eat popcorn?


Deals like the one above are pretty typical around the NBA. Tickets are, by and large, much more affordable than the minimum $42 at Rupp Arena. Yes, we will always be Wildcat fans first, but just think how much fun it would be to have an NBA team in April and into the playoffs in May, and possibly even June. Or think about how nice it would be this time of year in December, when UK is only playing once a week? The NBA in Louisville can be successful. The arena and support is already here (follow @nba2lou). The only thing stopping it at this point is politics.

Article written by John Wilmhoff

Former beer vendor, college mascot and ESPN editor. This spring, you can also find me blogging about the Reds on Follow me on Twitter: @JohnWilmhoff

27 Comments for Forbes Sports Business Blogger to Write Piece on NBA Relocation: Is Louisville A Top Choice?

  1. Nick
    4:03 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    Wow, that bloggers’ hair is horrid

  2. PAttY B
    4:08 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    Damn dirty birds

  3. GRob
    4:10 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    They’ve gotta bring in something to help pay for the arena. UL should just sit down and shut up; they’re already skimming millions of $$ off the top of the bankruptcy bound arena. If pro game tickets are semi-affordable, the place will be packed. And screw Pitino.

  4. Kory
    4:11 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    Can never cheer for a team based in Louisville. And tickets aren’t always $10. I am a Charlotte Bobcats fan and that deal only applies to the last 4 rows all the way up in the nose bleeds. The rest are gone to season ticket holders and sold $60 plus on ticket websites. The team would never be “successful” in Louisville. And taxes would be increased bringing in a NBA team. Just ask OKC. We are a college state. Take it somewhere else.

  5. Bob Cobb
    4:17 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    If a team wants to locate in Louisville they will. UL has the right to buy the arena in the event of bankruptcy, but the truth is they nor any other college could afford it. Bankruptcy would end the arena’s contractual obligation to UL and the lease would have to be renegotiated. UL doesn’t want that because it is a damn friendly lease. UL will look to maximize leverage and get the friendliest deal possible, but they want the arena to succeed as much as anyone.

    There would finally be a team in Louisville I could root for.

  6. billy g
    4:20 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    $4 beers at a sporting event…count me in!

  7. Chris
    4:20 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    I thought Louisville didn’t exist. Only when you need louisvillians’ tax money for your trailer and welfare huh? Ewww, the big city of Louisville is soooo scary. They even have black people…..ewwwww.

  8. ICEman
    4:22 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    and we do have a professional team in Louisville. The Louisville Stick Horses. Professional indoor Lacrosse. Just Saying.

  9. Ridge Runner
    4:26 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    When I look at this bloggers pic and the fact he is a blogger… well… suddenly forbes or not, this thing loses any influence to me.

  10. sec 224
    4:26 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    nothing to worry about, locate Gov’t will screw it up.

  11. NBAinLville
    4:40 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    I would try to go to every home game if/when UK wasn’t playing. I think it would be great not only for my basketball obsession, but the state as a whole. Someone was complaining that the $10 tickets were in nose bleed sections, but that is still alot cheaper than UK tickets in the nose bleed section. I say go for it.

  12. topshelfyaknow
    4:44 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    NBA team in London, KY would be great!!! They can play at the Corbin Arena…

  13. blueaville
    4:48 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    UK fan, louisville resident, NO THANKS to NBA.

  14. Bob Cobb
    4:52 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    7. It is not that Louisville doesn’t exist, it is just that they could really use a basketball team. It’s amazing that a city that size has nothing to offer in terms of sports teams. No university either. Weird.

  15. Hosier Wlldcat
    4:55 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    When we had a pro team here I went to a lot of games. It was great to see a few old Cats play. Now with all the Cats playing in the NBA I doubt there would be a game without some of them in it. I am all for the NBA.

  16. red headed step child
    4:58 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    As a business owner in Louisville I would purchase a ticket package. However, mayor Fischer wants to inactivity a “temporary” sales tax to cover outstanding debt that the city has due to bad management of taxpayers money by a previous administration. Here’s looking at you Jerry.
    If an NBA team relocated to Louisville, it would be easier to accept the tax increase.

  17. Usernametaken
    5:09 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    I wouldn’t support it unless the Yum! Center money stops going straight to the UL athletic department. I’m not going to help finance Jurich’s sports programs.

    5:26 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    Put the NBA in Rape Arena…just more overpaid wife beaters in the arena.

  19. bobby hill
    5:51 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    7. Those aren’t black people. They are actually white guys pretending to be black you can tell this by their pale skin.

  20. mike
    6:09 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    Holy. Whether or not you think Louisville is the best city for an an NBA team or not. That sentence took grammar back twenty years. Do you proofread?

  21. Shelbyjoe
    6:11 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    The “nosebleed” seats at the yum are actually decent. You can see good from everywhere in the yum. Jurich will do whatever he can to keep the nba out of the city and chicken head media will do and say whatever he tells them in order to convince fans it won’t work.

  22. Crackerhillbilly
    7:05 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    First, you dimwits who constantly diss Louisville/Jefferson County aren’t smart enough to realize that at least 50% of the residents here are Cats fans. Your stupid insults of the city that sends tax dollars your way really pisses me off. Yes, the Dirty Birds have a sweetheart deal at Yum – that sucks. And I expect Ramsey/Jurich/Pitino will fight the NBA tooth-and-nail…..but only as long as Yum is viable economically. If it looks like a default is imminent, then they will change their tune. Non-Louisville/Jefferson County Cats fans should just shut the hell up about issues that do not concern you and get yourselves focused on supporting much needed renovations to Rupp. Go Cats!

  23. UKBlue
    7:19 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    People are too stupid to realize these polls are rigged. Louisville will fall into the Pacific ocean before we get an NBA team.

  24. Beepthacreep
    7:42 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    Count me in as a season ticket holder illbuy 4 tickets tomorrow

  25. dave
    8:05 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    I am a Louisville resident and UK fan. I agree that the insults to the city of Louisville are stupid and pointless. I would love and NBA team here! The Yum Center is great; no team would ever come toplay in Freedom Hall (it is old and decrepit). I would go to several games a year. The downtown businesses would benefit. The Yum Center would benefit. UL’s athletic department might have slightly less revenue. Wins all around!

  26. Brad
    10:18 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    To those against this, do you understand that if there are not more dates filled in the Yum! Center the taxpayers will have to foot the bill? From Reuters, reporting Standard & Poor’s downgrades KFC Yum! Center bonds outlook to ‘negative.’ 41 additional events can help create more foot traffic in the TIF district.

    “Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government is responsible for paying up to $9.8 million in revenue shortfalls when it comes to servicing the debt, with the STATE picking up amounts over that.”

    Pro NBA or not it seems like no one wants to pay additional taxes for an underutilized arena.

  27. 2020
    11:05 pm December 16, 2012 Permalink

    My friends who work at UL have always said Louosville can’t support both an NBA and a top tier college program. Of course, that’s before they agreed to throw $4 million a year to a football coach who has never played a Top 20 team in 3 years. So that $$ argument is long gone out the window.