Louisville is not capable of supporting an NBA team, according to a PriceWaterhouseCooper report addressing the potential viability of a Louisville-based NBA franchise. Why? A lack of corporate support. The report, which explores Louisville’s strengths and weaknesses as a potential NBA city, says that a lack of corporate depth could be the city’s Achilles’ Heel, as there are only around 10 publicly traded companies large enough to buy enough suites and boxes (by comparison, InsiderLouisville.com points out that nearby Cincinnati has 25 corporations that size):
“Limited corporate base — a local NBA team would likely need a disproportionately higher level of support per company given the relative lack of corporate depth available in the Louisville market. Feedback from a sample of the corporate market, however, suggests that despite a common desire for a NBA team to serve as a catalyst for community development, there is a general lack of available support for a NBA team, including those local companies who have demonstrated a propensity for such investments; current private suite and premium box holders at the KFC Yum! Center.”
Not helping matters is the UofL’s situation with the Yum Center. Because the program has a stronghold over the Yum Center lease, corporate sponsorships would be split between the NBA team and Louisville athletics:
“A NBA franchise in Louisville would likely shift existing corporate funds rather than expand the base of support available within the community for sport and entertainment in at least the short-term.”
It isn’t all bad news. PriceWaterhouseCooper also mentions Louisville’s strengths as a potential NBA city: a modern arena, a well-established basketball fan base, above average support of existing sport and entertainment in the market, the absence of other major professional sports, and the availability of a proximate resident base available outside the immediate market.
While many argue that an NBA team would bring more corporations to Louisville, right now, the city doesn’t have a corporate base capable of supporting the team, which may prevent it from ever happening.