More NBA preseason games could be coming to Louisville - WDRB 41 Louisville News

More NBA preseason games could be coming to Louisville

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Last month's sold-out National Basketball Association exhibition game at the KFC Yum! Center was a largely Louisville-area affair.

On average, residents of Louisville and Southern Indiana have bought 65 percent of tickets for concerts and family shows in the last two years, but local buyers purchased 81 percent of tickets for the Oct. 4 preseason game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Miami Heat, according to building operator AEG.

The game, which featured former players from the universities of Louisville and Kentucky, rekindled discussions about whether the city could sustain an NBA team. Louisville Arena Authority board chairman Larry Hayes said Monday he's not in any discussions about bringing a team to the building.

But Hayes said he and Los Angeles-based AEG have talked to four NBA teams that want to play exhibition games in Louisville. He declined to name the teams, although general manager Dennis Petrullo said Miami is interested in returning.

“We're involved in discussions with other NBA teams who have an interest in coming here and doing just what they saw before,” Hayes said in an interview after Monday's arena authority meeting. “Certainly the community generated a lot of enthusiasm. That was evident to them. People want to come back and do that.”

In the last 15 years, the city unsuccessfully vied for several NBA franchises looking to relocate. NBA backers have cited the arena authority's lease agreement with U of L – whose men's and women's teams are the building's main tenants – as a potential obstacle to a professional team coming to Louisville.

AEG also is working to schedule a WNBA exhibition game next spring, but officials didn't provide additional details.

Petrullo told the arena authority that the recent Paul McCartney concert at the Yum! Center was the highest-grossing event in the building's history, although specific financial numbers weren't released. In all, 48 percent of concertgoers were from outside the Louisville area, according to AEG.

Monday's arena authority meeting also included a brief update of the board's ability to pay off construction debt on the building. The authority, which has struggled in the past to make debt payments, is in “perfectly fine shape” for a payment due Dec. 1, financial adviser Alex Rorke said.

Rorke, a Hilliard Lyons executive, is set to appear along with arena officials in Frankfort on Thursday for a meeting of the General Assembly's Program Review and Investigations Committee. Also scheduled to speak to state lawmakers are Louisville Metro Council president Jim King, an arena authority member, and William Summers V, the arena authority's vice chairman.

Last month, the state investigations committee received a report on the operations of the Kentucky State Fair Board, which operated the arena from its opening in 2010 until 2012, when the arena authority replaced it with AEG.

At that meeting, panel chairman Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, threatened to use subpoena power to get arena officials to testify on a dispute over $7.5 million that represents revenue the fair board lost when U of L moved to the downtown arena from Freedom Hall at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

Clifford "Rip" Rippetoe, the fair board's president, has said he believes that money is owed under a reading of arena financing documents. Arena officials have argued that they aren't obligated to pay the money.

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