Council approves $29K to lure NBA team - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Council approves $29K to lure NBA team

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By Bennett Haeberle WDRB-TV Fox 41 News    bhaeberle@fox41.com

LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- For Louisville to acquire an NBA team it will need to rebound, learn from its previous losses and pull a fast break. Literally.

City leaders remain optimistic, saying "an announcement" could happen before the end of the year.

In this latest match up, those close to the latest effort believe the outcome could be different from previous unsuccessful attempts of the past decade.

Attorney J. Bruce Miller has been leading the charge as of late, and on Thursday, Metro Council members awarded him an additional $29,000 to continue his marketing campaign to acquire an NBA franchise.

That money comes on top of the $60,000 the city awarded him earlier this year to begin the process of acquiring potential investors. Miller writes in a status report that he has acquired 20 potential investors who are willing to commit between $500,000 to $1 million each.

He says he developed a "brochure" and writes about how Louisville's potential NBA market would include 1.2 million television sets and could attract fans stretching from Lexington to Covington.

Miller has a close relationship with NBA Commissioner David Stern and represented pro-athletes in the 1970s. In an update to that report in September, Miller writes that "the focus of the effort changed. This change was of deep significance."

Miller says he spoke to David Stern for more than an hour in October. He said Stern encouraged him, but was frank, "if you want an NBA team Louisville, it will not be 'given' out as if it were a birthday present."

Councilman Kelly Downard said Miller would be working hard "over the next 45 days" to acquire an NBA team.

Miller and the Kentucky State Fair Board also have a memorandum of understanding that states the fair board will not book any future events at Freedom Hall between November and April. That understanding runs through November of 2011 and could be renewed for an additional year.

Miller could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Critics have charged that no NBA team would want to play in Freedom Hall when the University of Louisville teams are playing in the new 22,000 KFC Yum! Center.

Kenny Klein, a spokesman for UofL Athletics department, said that Athletics Director Tom Jurich would be willing to share time at the KFC Yum! Center but would not give up having first priority for scheduling for both the men's and women's teams.

UofL men's basketball coach Rick Pitino told reporters on Dec. 10: "

"The NBA isn't coming to Louisville because David Stern doesn't want it in Louisville. First thing you do before you have all these wacky thoughts is somebody go meet with Stern and then if he says maybe... then you go to work."

Some believe that could wrinkle or dash any hopes of acquiring a franchise, but Councilman Johnson remains optimistic, saying other NBA markets share space with collegiate athletics.

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