Councilman Dan Johnson, D-21st District, sponsored the non-binding measure and said whether or not the league is looking to expand currently his measure shows potential investors the city is ready to negotiate. At his desk he sat an old Kentucky Colonels basketball from the American Basketball Association that was signed by former players during the nearly hour-long hearing.
Economists have said it would cost at least $1 billion for an individual or groups of investors to buy an NBA franchise. Those experts also said that the KFC Yum! Center’s lease agreement — which has the University of Louisville as the main tenant — would be another obstacle. Daniel Bauer, director of Bellarmine University’s Sports Administration program, said it would cost more than $300 million to convert Freedom Hall out at the Fairground into an NBA-caliber facility.
Louisville Metro Councilman Dan Johnson submitted a revised version of his NBA resolution on Thursday after fellow members and other groups abandoned the initial proposal because it was based on anonymous sources. The new measure says Louisville has a longstanding love affair with basketball that would greatly benefit from a professional franchise. Johnson’s original proposal had said the league was preparing to proceed with expansion based on unnamed sources.
After pulling the original resolution, Johnson later said a sports website that claimed NBA and city officials met last week to discuss potential league expansion was his source. But several local officials, including Mayor Greg Fischer’s office, have rebuffed that report.
Despite assurances from the National Basketball Association that there are no plans to expand or relocate to Louisville, a Metro Council resolution filed Monday claims the professional basketball league is preparing to do so. Councilman Dan Johnson sponsored the non-binding measure, which says the city has KFC Yum! Center is able to accommodate a franchise and that residents would welcome such a decision. Johnson’s proposal also says the NBA “has indicated they are prepared to proceed with expansion teams.”