U of L volleyball leaving KFC Yum! Center for on-campus arena
The move comes as the Louisville Arena Authority and city leaders have broached the possibility of changes to the U of L lease at the downtown arena.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville plans to begin playing its women’s volleyball games at a renovated building on campus, leaving the KFC Yum! Center after more than six years.
The move comes as the Louisville Arena Authority and city leaders have broached the possibility of changes to the U of L lease at the downtown arena. Yum! Center management supports the university’s decision to stop playing volleyball there, according to U of L.
The team had played most of its home games at the Yum! Center since its 2010 opening. But new coach Dani Busboom Kelly and U of L staff decided that the Cardinal Arena on the Belknap Campus would be a better fit, university documents show.
On Thursday, U of L’s athletic association board of directors voted to spend $600,000 on new bleachers and lights for Cardinal Arena. The building is used for various campus events but needs improvements to seats built in the 1980s, U of L athletics director Tom Jurich told board members.
Jurich said after the meeting that Busboom Kelly, who was hired in November, wanted the team to play at Cardinal Arena.
“We wanted to get everything back to campus,” he said. “That’s a better move for us.”
U of L’s recommendation to board members noted that the university made its decision after reviewing attendance and operating expenses at the Yum! Center. Through December 31, the volleyball program had a $1.5 million budget – second-highest among all sports outside of football, baseball and men’s and women’s basketball.
There were eight volleyball games at the Yum! Center during the 2017 fiscal year. Dennis Petrullo, the arena’s general manager, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Since the athletic association’s previous meeting in October, members of the Metro Council and Louisville Arena Authority have suggested changes to the U of L lease at the Yum! Center – a move that could free up more money to pay off the arena’s construction debt. Arena Authority chairman Scott C. Cox has said the agency may have trouble making bond payments as early as 2020.
But there was no mention of the issue at the athletic association board meeting on Thursday, either by Jurich or board members. After the meeting, Jurich characterized discussions about the lease as “talking. Just talking.”
Asked if he expects any resolution in the coming months, he said: “Probably not.”
The athletic association board of directors also approved a $2-per-ticket increase for U of L’s six home football games at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium 2017.
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