To the extent that a Louisville franchise would encroach on the territory of the Indiana Pacers and their league-approved 150-mile marketing radius, that risk might seem excessive to Herbert Simon, the NBA’s longest-tenured owner. An NBA source said Thursday that Simon would surely fight expansion in Louisville or Cincinnati, and that his influence on his fellow owners could be hard to overcome. A Pacers spokesman referred questions along those lines to the league.
Metro council member Dan Johnson, author of the resolution endorsing an NBA team in Louisville, was asked via e-mail Thursday if he had any factual basis to believe it a realistic possibility; whether he could identify a primary investor or explain how U of L’s lease could be revised to accommodate an NBA team and what persuasion he could provide that the whole idea is not “pie in the sky.” Here follows his response, in its entirety: “When they expand we will be there.”
The KFC Yum! Center is no stranger to the NBA, even hosting two exhibition games during the pre-season, but could the league become more permanent here in Louisville? “If anyone is even considering this city, that we take the time to work with them and see if it could be profitable for all parties. With that being said, no one has contacted my office as of yet,” said Metro Council President David Yates. Yates responds to an article by ’16 Wins a Ring,’ an NBA blog calling Louisville ‘a serious contender’ for an NBA expansion team. Yates said if it does happen, UofL would have to share the KFC Yum! Center with the NBA.
“I think that we have a world class facility at the arena and I think that in the event this type of investment would come into our city, I know that our partners at UofL would be willing to work with us,” said Yates. Louisville has been talking about an NBA team since the 1990’s.
Louisville leaders, though, say they’re in favor of the pro-team, but aren’t anticipating any big moves in the near future. “We would welcome the private investment to our city, it would be good for our city, but we’ll wait and sit back and see if someone contacts local officials,” said Yates.
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.