Jim Host stepping down as Chairman of Arena Authority
LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The man whom many credit with getting the KFC Yum! Center built during tough economic times is stepping down -- but that doesn't mean we have seen or heard the last from Jim Host from Lexington.
Host told the regular meeting of the Louisville Arena Authority on Monday that he will resign as chairman at the end of the year.
He told members of the authority Monday morning that he took one last tour of the arena before sunrise by himself, and that now he will turn in his keys to the governor, because at age 74 he has accomplished what he set out to do with the $238 million project.
"There is no good time to go, but it is time," Host said.
Host says he is leaving at a time when the new arena is in good financial shape after its first full year of operation.
Host was appointed in 2005 by Governor Ernie Fletcher to lead the task force that eventually became the Louisville Arena Authority.
"I remember the early days when we were looking at the site," says Host, "and some said the site would not work, that it was too small, there were a lot of naysayers at the time."
Host says while the arena has exceeded the expectations of many in the community, he always believed it would be successful.
"I felt from day one that this would be a jewel for Kentucky and a jewel for Kentucky's largest city," says Host.
Host says he believes the arena will continue to draw NCAA tournaments and attract great concerts. "I already know some who are coming that you don't yet know," Host kidded with reporters Monday morning. "They are big time blockbuster entertainment groups that have never been here before."
Many in the community believe the new arena would never have been built without Host's leadership and persistence, since it was designed and constructed during the nation's worst economic crisis in modern times, and getting financing for such projects was nearly impossible.
"Jim Host has done a great job in getting the arena built," says Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. "He is the best guy in the country for this kind of project."
Host says for more than five years he has commuted almost daily to Louisville, making the 70-mile trip from his Lexington home.
"All I know is that I wore three cars out," he says, "and I am on my fourth one now."
Host served as chairman without pay.
We have not seen or heard the last of him.
Recently the mayors of Louisville and Lexington appointed Host the chairman of the project to create a so called economic super region between the two cities.
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