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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Louisville might have a new downtown arena and a large fan base for an NBA team, but it lacks financial support from corporations to support a professional franchise.
That's according to a new study released from Pricewaterhouse Coopers, a firm hired by Greater Louisville Inc. to research the issue. Mayor Greg Fischer pushed for the study in November after meeting in September with interested parties.
When asked about the study Tuesday, Fischer said: "The data says it depends. And the big factor of course would be the NBA would have to decide if it was going to expand, which it's unclear. It's probably unlikely. And if it did, it would be years.
"It's never been on the front of the mind of the mayor's office. This is something we've spent very little time on. There has been a media hysteria on this as well."
Fischer's tone appears to have changed. In a September 15, 2012 WDRB News article, Fischer released a statement saying in part:
"I'm excited to be part of the dialogue, and I continue to believe we should be ready if an opportunity presents itself," Fischer said.
Among the study's other findings - Louisville has the a strong fan base for basketball and a new arena. It also has similar resident and corporate bases of other NBA markets. But it lacks financial support from corporations that would buy suites in a potential NBA arena.
The University of Louisville also is the primary tenant of the KFC Yum! Center.
"We got the fans we got the support. I feel like even people from Lexington will come down and watch NBA games," said Murrell Wilkerson, a basketball fan.
While the data shows fan support is strong, lack of corporate support and competition from the University of Louisville might hurt an NBA franchise in Louisville.
"We have some data that will go on a shelf. We will build the city and jobs. And whatever opportunity comes up we will take a look at that. And UofL has to have a win in this as well," Fischer told reporters Tuesday.
Attorney J Bruce Miller, a local sports agent and author who the city has given thousands of dollars to research an NBA franchise, told WDRB News by phone Tuesday that he still thinks the NBA is viable in Louisville, adding that he believes fans will travel to Louisville to watch games.