KFC Yum Center opens entries for NBA National Anthem contest

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- KFC Yum! Center leaders say they're on track to pay off the arena's massive debt, and they credit a combination of things for making that happen.

Sandra Moran, Director of Marketing at the Yum! Center, said this month's postseason basketball is just a few of the attractions. Later this month, Brad Paisley and Pink! will be playing at the arena, and Moran said more than 60 percent of tickets bought for the latter are by fans outside the Louisville market.

Moran said those shows attract thousands of people and dollars to downtown Louisville.

"Over 17,000 people coming to the arena, filling our restaurants, filling our hotels, so it does generate a lot of money for the arena, but a lot of money for the city," she said.

But the biggest factor occurred outside the building: In December, the Louisville Arena Authority successfully refinanced the Yum! Center’s construction debt, lowering annual debt payments and staving off a looming default.

"The Yum! is doing tremendously well," said Scott Cox, the arena authority chairman.

"Last year, we had 29 concerts, which was a record for us, and 10 of them were sold out," he said.

And Cox said there is a correlation between performances and the tax increment financing, or TIF, which captures a portion of sales taxes spent near the arena and returns it to arena officials for debt payments.

"So when they come and they stay in our hotels and eat in our restaurants and drink in our bars, that really drives are TIF district, because we get almost all of our income from the TIF from sales tax," he said.

The arena authority has also restructured the Yum! Center's debt and contract with the University of Louisville.

"What a difference a year makes," said Metro Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith.

Last year, Metro Council voted to provide a bigger financial contribution, so Thursday afternoon Cox council's budget committee address gave a state of the Yum! Center report.

"The financing is one of the best financial structures that I have seen in a long time," Sexton Smith said.

Cox said that if the TIF continues to do well, they'll be able to pay the bonds off early.

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