Ramsey talks about upcoming Sugar Bowl, arena's future - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ramsey talks about upcoming Sugar Bowl, arena's future

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NEW ORLEANS (WDRB) -- Louisville's biggest New Year's party might be in New Orleans tonight as the Cards get ready for the Sugar Bowl.

Thousands of people will celebrate U of L's Sugar Bowl appearance in the Big Easy -- including WDRB's Tom Lane and Eric Crawford. Great to see you both and your guest as well.

They had a chance to speak with University of Louisville President Dr. James Ramsey on New Year's Eve. It turns out that New Orleans is one of Ramsey's former homes.

"My wife and I are from Louisville," Ramsey said. "But one of my teaching stops was at Loyola University, and we were here four years. It's a great city, we've still got a lot of friends here. And the city is rebuilding in a great way from Katrina, it's still taking place, but it's a great city, a great place to go to a Final Four and Sugar Bowl.

Thousands of U of L fans have already packed the city, and 2012 has been a great year for the University: Charlie Strong will remain as head football coach, the ACC invited Louisville to join its conference, not to mention a win over Rutgers to get here -- and the Cards' victory over the Wildcats Saturday was one of the sweetest victories of all.

Ramsey says the exposure for the university has been fantastic.

"A Bowl Championship Series series game is just huge," Ramsey said. "It's huge internally in terms of morale and energy and enthusiasm on campus, but it really ignites our alumni, it helps our development efforts, and it helps our student recruiting efforts."

Ramsey says Strong's decision to stay at Louisville is a "huge statement. Charlie had a lot of options, and of course the SEC is where everyone wants to go in football.

"I think it says several things: number one that he works for the best athletic director in the country. Second, that we're doing things the right way," Ramsey said. "We won't ever be the biggest -- our stadium won't be the biggest -- but we'll always try to be the best. So it said he [Strong] believed in the university, he believed in the community, so it's a huge statement."

Ramsey acknowledged that he's aware of talk of trying to bring an NBA team to Louisville, but says no one has contacted him about negotiating a deal.

"Well, number one, we have not been consulted, and that's what is most disappointing," Ramsey said. "Second, I know there is a small group -- the polling numbers that we've seen are pretty small in terms of the overall support for that.

"You know, the arena was not our highest priority; we wanted to expand the football stadium, but after the 2005 Final Four appearance, there was a lot of energy about building a new arena. And we wanted to be supportive, we wanted to do what was in the best interest of the community, and we will always try to do that.

"The most important thing for us was scheduling and being able to build our mens' program, our womens' program and we need those dates. We'll sit down and talk with anyone, but we have a contract and we want to make sure that the terms of that contract are adhered to. I think the TIFF financing will play out.

"I think now there is professional managers involved in managing the arena, you see that their numbers are better, they have some of the costs under control. So I wouldn't be too worried about the arena, it's a great facility, a great asset, and it'll will take care of itself. And if anyone wants to talk to us about the NBA, both Tom and I are available."

We'll have continuing Sugar Bowl coverage from New Orleans coming up on WDRB.

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