KFC Yum! Center arena still struggling for revenue - WDRB 41 Louisville News

KFC Yum! Center arena still struggling for revenue

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LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- The first match of the NCAA Volleyball Championship is expected to begin Thursday evening at the KFC Yum! Center.

The Lady Nittany Lions dug in for a final practice Thursday afternoon before they hit the floor for the Final Four.

And once again Louisville plays host to the nation.

It's not just another banner event downtown for the KFC Yum! Center.

The volleyball championships coincide with the American Volleyball Coaches Association annual convention. Roughly 15,000 people are expected to attend the events, setting up Louisville for a $3.5 million economic impact.

"We definitely see that jump when we have events at the Yum! Center," said Jeremy Rhodes of Doc Crows, a business that profits from arena crowds. "These weekend-long events that come in."

The Buckmasters are in from Wahoo, Neb.

"We like the downtown areas with the flea markets and antique shops," said Erin Buckmaster.

But the big events and big crowds are not bringing enough big money. Reports say the special sales tax charged to businesses like Doc Crows, that sit in the shadow of the downtown arena, only generated about $6.4 million last year. That's far below projections.

WDRB has learned leaders scaled back the 2013 forecast from $10 million in TIF revenue to $5.5 million. This is the way the Arena Authority pays off the $349 million construction debt. The city has had to shore up the losses.

"I think they're bringing in quite a bit of revenue, just not what we projected," said Louisville Metro Council Budget Committee Chair Marianne Butler. "But we didn't foresee a recession that was going to stay here so long either."

AEG has been hired to turn things around, booking more than 20 acts for the arena before June.

"It's a big treat to get to come down here and take in all this, plus the Final Four," said Doug Cassell. "It's just like a big kid's Christmas."

That's six months to pack in more crowds, hoping for a spike in revenue.

The University of Texas, Penn State, Oregon and Michigan are in the Final Four. The University of Texas and Michigan will face each other Thursday at 7:00 p.m.

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