The Louisville Cardinal

KFC YUM! Center faces possible audit

KFC YUM! Center

By Kyeland Jackson —

Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harmon might have another audit relating to U of L.

WDRB first reported the story, as Kentucky lawmakers requested Harmon audit management of the KFC YUM! Center Tuesday. The lawmakers cited possible failures in the arena’s financial management, attributing costs to a U of L lease agreement as part of the problem. U of L’s lease agreement with the YUM! Center guarantees 88 percent of private suite sales go to the university. Businessman Denis Frankenberger forecasts the stadium will go bankrupt.

“Basically what you’ve got is a conduit by which taxpayer dollars are funneled through and out the other end, and they go into the University of Louisville Athletic Association,” Frankenberger said. “It’s a taxpayer scam.”

The stadium is more than $22 million in debt. While the stadium claims to pay down its debt regularly, projections estimate it will rise to $37 million by 2029. Bond rating firm Moody’s last year found YUM! Center projections should cover the debt, yet the stadium carried an “ascending debt service payment profile.”

Built in 2010, the $238 million, 721,762 square foot arena is the premier location for U of L’s basketball and volleyball games. The arena was voted 21st nationwide by a 2014 Pollster magazine, and hosts concerts, sporting events and graduation ceremonies.

Harmon is currently auditing financial dealings between the university and the U of L Foundation, U of L’s $655 million endowment manager. Harmon’s office estimates that audit will be finished before winter.

Photo by Kyeland Jackson / The Louisville Cardinal