Wednesday, August 20 2014 9:47 PM EDT2014-08-21 01:47:16 GMT
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With classes beginning on Monday, the University of Louisville says it still hasn't gotten word from the NCAA Clearinghouse on 6-9 signee Jaylen Johnson. Rick Pitino said his high school was slow submitting his paperwork. More >>
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - The KFC Yum! Center announced on Thursday that it'll host the first ever NBA game at the arena this fall on October 4th.
The preseason game between the Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans features some of the most well-known names in professional basketball. In just six months, Lebron James and Dewayne Wade could be hitting the court. Their opponents include Anthony Davis and Darius Miller on the Pelicans who helped the UK Wildcats win the National Championship in 2012. The popular players expected to be a huge boost for the KFC Yum! Center and downtown Louisville.
"We look at ourselves as the best arena in the world," says Robbie Valentine, director of premium services at the arena. "Bringing in a two-time world champion in the Miami Heat, you can't get better than that."
Add that to all the fans that would be in town as well as other big name events announced for the arena, and that's money directly in the pockets of local business owners.
"I think it's unbelievable," says Valentine. "Anytime you bring in heavy hitters such as the NBA, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, we've got a good lineup that's great for Kentuckiana and of course downtown Louisville."
In 2013, Pricewater Coopers, a firm hired by Greater Louisville Inc, to research the issue, asked if the arena could support an NBA team, permanently. It found the city lacks enough financial support from corporations for a team, but it showed plenty of fan support for the idea.
There's already a grassroots effort pushing to bring a professional team back home to Louisville. NBA2Lou has nearly 11,000 likes on Facebook, and more than a thousand followers on Twitter. But on our WDRB Facebook page, the support is mixed. Some say an NBA team would have a good following, others say Kentucky is a college sports state, and a professional team wouldn't survive.
The UofL Cardinals obviously play at the Yum Center but a school spokesman declined to comment.
The exhibition game between the Heat and Pelicans is Oct. 4. Tickets go on sale Saturday, April 19 and start at $18.