Now twenty-five years later, Furman says he is still working on getting the NBA to the Bluegrass State but with a group of organizers in Louisville instead. The group hopes to bring a team there which has the NBA-ready KFC Yum! Center that seats over 22,000. “The NBA TV contract runs out 2015-16, and it looks like the NBA is going to expand to two more teams. They’re talking about Seattle and one other team and I figure that other team may be Louisville,” Furman said.
His name is J. Bruce Miller. He is said to be a longtime personal friend of David Stern’s and has been trying for years to bring a revival of the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels to the City of Louisville. (…) Miller: “As I’ve repeatedly said, ONCE the League gets control of the Sterling situation either by Sterling losing and the sale carrying forth OR by Sterling winning and the League (itself) moving forward as per Silver “…with our own proceedings.” — then the time will come to focus on the television rights negotiation which will also involve the potential expansion to Seattle and another city (most likely to be Louisville).”
Louisville’s chamber of commerce, hired the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to conduct a feasibility study on the prospects of attracting an NBA professional basketball franchise to the city. In a report released today, it appears that these prospects are dim, to say the least.
Following the construction of the $450 million, 22,500-seat KFC Yum! Center complex, the Louisville Metro Government expended a significant amount of taxpayer funds, in an attempt to lure an NBA franchise to the arena; all to no avail. The KFC Yum! Center was completed, after a bitter controversy in which University of Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich, along with University of Louisville president James Ramsey, local pizza magnate John Schnatter, and Humana co-founder David Jones, expressed serious concerns and reservations about the project. Current estimates indicate that the total debt on the bonds used to finance the arena will amount to at least $573 million, over 30 years.
Finally, the report indicates that local support for college basketball would militate against support for a professional team: “Louisville has a well-established basketball fan base, but the unique dynamic that exists between the community and college basketball could serve as a potential constraint should a local NBA team be improperly positioned as a competitive versus complementary or differentiated offering.”