As I referenced to earlier, the current lease agreement between UofL and the Yum Center has been a roadblock for Kentucky in scheduling a regular season game in downtown Louisville. Due to the current financial struggles of the Yum Center, the Arena Authority hopes to re-negotiate the agreement with Tom Jurich. Currently, the “agreement” calls for UofL to receive 88% of suite profits, even at non-UofL events.
One simple solution to the Chicken Bucket’s financial troubles would be to lure an NBA team, but it’s believed that Jurich would not be willing to move women’s basketball and volleyball games out of the Yum Center in order to accommodate an NBA schedule. Another simple stream of revenue would be to schedule an annual Kentucky game, or even a bi-annual game against Indiana, if Jurich would ever alow it.
Courier Journal reporter Marcus Green recently wrote two articles on the topic, one in March and another earlier this month, and below are a few exerpts concerning a “study” conducted by the Arena Authority.
Overall, adding more concerts during the basketball season could lead to $500,000 more in revenue, while more efficient staffing could save at least $600,000 a year, the report found.
The study focused on arena operations but not other areas that could affect the revenue available for paying off debt.
Authority member Todd Blue, who said after the meeting that he was resigning from the board because his primary business is now in Texas, argued during a lengthy discussion of the operations review that the revenue split with U of L is not favorable.
Previously, Blue has proposed changes to the authority’s agreements with the university to produce more revenue.
“This building is an incredible revenue generator – one of the most unique in the country, which we should all celebrate – and I just would like at some point to really look at the swath of that top-line dollar amount,” said Blue, a Louisville businessman and developer.
“Those millions of dollars are going to U of L,” Blue said after the meeting. “And I’m just saying: Why is that not on the table to talk about?”
In the March article, former Arena Authority member Todd Blue and UofL spokesman Mark Hebert adressed the issue:
“I don’t feel remotely apologetic to ask U of L to participate in good community stewardship and work with us to reconfigure the agreement,” Blue said, noting the university’s bolstered athletics budget at a time when the arena authority is “barely covering” expenses.
U of L spokesman Mark Hebert did not directly address Blue’s proposal in a statement.
“The University of Louisville will always do what is in the best interests of the university and our community,” he said. “Perhaps more than anyone, we want the downtown arena to be successful and we’re doing our part to make it a success.”
This will all be something to keep an eye on if the contract is re-negotiated to allow more concerts and other events in the Yum Center during basketball season, and possibly even allow Kentucky to play an annual regular season game in downtown Louisville. But I highly doubt Tom Jurich has any plans to change the current deal. Other than wanting to do the right thing for the community, why should he?