Ticket sales sluggish for NBA exhibition game at KFC Yum! Center - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ticket sales sluggish for NBA exhibition game at KFC Yum! Center

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The KFC Yum! Center has sold roughly 3,000 tickets for next month’s National Basketball Association preseason game, raising attendance concerns among arena officials.

The October 15 game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Miami Heat is scheduled for the same night as another NBA exhibition at Lexington’s Rupp Arena.

“It’s too much in one state,” Dennis Petrullo, the Yum! Center’s general manager, said during Monday’s meeting of the Louisville Arena Authority.

Petrullo acknowledged that the number of former University of Kentucky players set to appear at Rupp Arena may be a factor, and he told board members that the sluggish sales won’t deter the arena from pursuing NBA exhibition games in the future. Instead, he said he will be more selective.

Several arena authority members suggested that the arena may want to give away blocks of tickets to help bring in more fans. Petrullo said he’s opposed to such giveaways because they encourage people to wait for free tickets.

The 22,000-seat Yum! Center sold out its first NBA exhibition game between Miami and the New Orleans Pelicans in 2014, but the announced attendance dropped to 6,123 for last October’s Miami-Orlando Magic game.

The Yum! Center announced this year’s game in May. Several weeks later, promoters said the Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards would play at Rupp Arena on the same date.

The Lexington game includes several former UK players, including Washington’s John Wall and Sacramento’s Willie Cauley-Stein and DeMarcus Cousins.

Former University of Louisville player Gorgui Dieng and Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns of Minnesota could play at the Yum! Center.

Also at Monday’s meeting, building operator AEG said it generated a record year of operating profit at the Yum! Center -- $2.2 million during the fiscal year that ended in June. That amount, which doesn’t include U of L’s share of arena revenue, was about $675,000 more than the amount AEG guaranteed it will return to the arena authority.

The arena authority uses the building’s operating profit, along with other monies, to pay off construction debt on the Yum! Center. The building is home to U of L’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.

A tax-increment financing district around the arena is a key source of funding for the building’s debt. The arena authority hasn’t yet gotten state figures showing how much tax revenue the district produced in 2015, said Alex Rorke, senior managing director of municipal securities for arena adviser Hilliard Lyons.

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