Study will evaluate "funding process" of Louisville Arena Author - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Study will evaluate "funding process" of Louisville Arena Authority

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky legislative leaders have agreed to spend state money to “evaluate the funding process” of the Louisville Arena Authority, which oversees the financing of the KFC Yum! Center.

The study, requested by the General Assembly's capital projects and bond oversight committee in April, was approved at the June 3 meeting of the Legislative Research Commission, staff members of the bond panel said Tuesday.

The bond oversight committee, which met informally in Frankfort, didn't discuss how much would be spent on the study. Sen. Chris Girdler, a Somerset Republican who co-chairs the bond oversight committee, could not be reached directly after the meeting. He did not immediately return a phone message left at his Frankfort office.

Sen. Julian Carroll, a Frankfort Democrat who serves on both the bond oversight group and the 16-member LRC committee, said in an interview that he has received “a number of citizen requests” with questions about the arena's budget.

The building at Second and Main streets is the home of the University of Louisville's basketball teams and a concert venue. Even before the arena opened in 2010, it has been a lightning rod for controversies, including claims that U of L got an overly generous lease and concerns about whether the arena authority will be able to pay off construction debt in the coming years as annual bond payments increase.

The arena authority is appointed by Kentucky's governor and Louisville's mayor.

Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen and Attorney General Jack Conway have sided with the arena authority in recent disputes, including with the Kentucky State Fair Board, but some lawmakers argue those responses haven't gone far enough.

“There's a lot of questions that need to be answered,” Carroll, a former Kentucky governor, said in an interview. “That project, I'm concerned, has some troubled waters and we need to find out how serious they are and how soon they are to becoming very serious.”

An independent actuary would conduct the study, which Carroll said will address the arena authority's ability to repay debt, revenue-sharing agreements, organizational structure and other issues.

“We will spend the money necessary to make the study and we will get the answers,” he said.

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