Fair Board, YUM Center air dispute in front of state lawmakers - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Fair Board, YUM Center air dispute in front of state lawmakers

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The old home of Louisville Cardinals basketball is calling a foul on the new home of the Cards. The State Fair Board is trying to collect more than $7 million from the KFC Yum! Center.

The Fair Board operates Freedom Hall, home of the Louisville Cardinals for more than 50 years. The Board says it lost more than $7 million in revenue when the team moved to the Yum Center in 2010, and it wants reimbursement from the Arena Authority.

"We're hoping that we can move towards a resolution on that. We have one opinion and the Arena Authority has another opinion," said Fair Board President Rip Rippitoe.

Indeed, during a Frankfort hearing, the Arena Authority cried foul. Member and Metro Council President Jim King told lawmakers the Fair Board initially mismanaged the Yum Center; draining millions of dollars before the AEG Company took over operations in 2012.

"It appears that the Fair Board was trying to make up their losses at the expense of the Yum Center," said Sen. Tom Buford (R) Nicholasville.

"I think that there was some cost-shifting going on," responded King.

Inside the hearing room, the two sides did play nice, agreeing their relationship has improved since Rippitoe became president of the Fair Board last year.

Lawmakers have asked Attorney General Jack Conway to issue an opinion as to whether the Yum Center has to pay up. But King says even if the Arena Authority loses, no cash would change hands until the Yum Center has paid off its bonds.

"The bottom line on that is that the cash doesn't have to be paid for 25 years. So, it's really not going to affect the arena operations at all," said King.

Rippitoe, who is struggling to balance the Fair Board's budget, says he'll wait.

"It has no immediate impact, but long-term it has a great impact on us," he said.

The Attorney General's office says there is no timetable as to when he will issue that opinion.

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