Jim Host made a strong presentation for the new arena, noting that Louisville coach Rick Pitino "loves the whole design." Host recently showed Pitino conceptual designs for the new arena.
Based on photos Host presented yesterday, the new arena will offer plenty of sizzle. Situated on the riverfront, the arena corridor would also include a 500 room hotel on site, a 17,000 square foot public atrium that could accommodate 1,000 people, in addition to retail shops and restaurants.
Host said the arenas design is "based on hosting NCAA Championships." That's why, he said, it's important to tie everything together at one location. Host also promised the facility would be a technological wonder.
"It will have the best state of the art technology, including video boards on the outside of the arena, wireless internet access throughout and a scoreboard that's the best around," he said.
Host told U of L officials the proposed new arena complies fully with the needs set forth by U of L's Big East Task Force last spring. Among those essential needs were priority scheduling, revenue from club and luxury suite sales, and parking revenue.
"We've not only covered those needs, but have gone beyond them," he said.
Host will meet with U of L officials in the days ahead to further scrutinize the details and financial impact the arena will have on the university. "We haven't signed off on these numbers," said U of L's Kevin Miller, noting that both he and Tom Jurich will meet with Host soon to delve deeper into the financial impact of the arena for the school. "We're still in the process of confirming them."
Host also promised the arena would be adorned in the U of L's red and black colors.
"You're going to have a lot of prime seats in the middle because of the way the arena will be configured, considerably more than Freedom Hall currently has," said Host. "And the seats will all be red."
Host said U of L officials will control ticket pricing in the new arena, and assured U of L President James Ramsey during the presentation that the Cardinals would be the arena's primary tenant. He also said there would be a $2 per ticket tax for 15 years, and that the university would receive no parking revenue for the arenas first five years. The arena would be managed by the Kentucky State Fair Board.
The General Assembly will consider a request to bond $75 million this legislative session to get the project underway. Host said the Kentucky State Senate is "literally 100 percent on board," with the plan. Obviously Governor Ernie Fletcher is a strong supporter of the proposed downtown arena, and Host said he's made headway in convincing members of the Jefferson County House of Representatives to get behind the plan in recent weeks.
If the General Assembly approves the bond request and U of L signs off on the deal, the ball could start moving quickly.
"We hope to have this thing ready for the 2009-10 season," Host said.