Nearly $8 million in upgrades to KFC Yum! Center promise no bad seat in the house

The massive upgrades include new monitors giving all-around good seats.
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A massive LED scoreboard and new sound system are just part of upgrades fans will see when UofL Basketball tips off this season.

“These new LED displays will give us over 12 thousand square feet of dynamic LED viewing throughout the venue,” arena General Manager Eric Granger said. “Which will create an enhanced fan experience, increased sponsorship opportunities, and an overall better fan experience.”

The price tag is near $8 million and it is largely being spent on technology improvements.

But it also includes 130 thousand square feet of new carpet.

“There had been dollars set aside specifically,” Louisville Arena Chair Leslie Geoghegan said. “Because we believe we do have one of the top venues in the country and we want to maintain that status.”

The arena emerged from a financial crisis in 2017 with its $300 million-dollar-plus debt restructured, claiming to be in a better position to make money and pay for improvements, like new sound and scoreboards.

“Taxpayers basically subsidize all of the losses of the Yum Center,” Denis Frankenberger, taxpayer watchdog and frequent critic of the area’s financing said. “Which amounts to about…$16million to $18 million a year. And it’s a scandal.”

Frankenberger argued that combined public subsidies from Louisville Metro Council, UofL a state-approved TIF, amount to taxpayers overpaying for the arena’s annual debt payments.

”Over a course of several years they get this excess in payments and then they want to spend it,” Frankenberger said. “Now they’re going to spend it on renovation and scoreboards.”

Geoghegan however defended the upgrade expenditures.

”It seems like a very good partnership,” Geoghegan said, “bringing together all the parties between the state and the city because both are definitely benefitting from the KFC YUM! Center being an economic engine for downtown.”

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