By Ian Wooldridge–
The National Basketball Association to Louisville; what’s the first thing that enters into your mind when you hear that sentiment? Some people, quite frankly, just may not care. But, even if you’re not necessarily a sports fan, you must understand the implications of what bringing an NBA team to Louisville can have on this city. The impacts that the move would have would instantly be felt economically and culturally. Also, the logistics of the move might be immensely simpler and smoother that you may think; as in, the city of Louisville would be ready and has what is required to accept an NBA franchise as early as today.
Let us first take a look at how an NBA franchise in Louisville would affect the city economically and socioeconomically. In a study and calculation conducted by Forbes last year, they determined that the average value of an NBA team was $393 million dollars. Would this hurt Louisville? If an NBA team arrived in Louisville, new jobs and positions would instantly be created, along with new opportunities to collect local taxes. According to Forbes, Louisville is ranked 41st best place for business and careers. This ranks higher than other notable cities that contain NBA teams: Indianapolis, at 44th; Boston, at 45th; Philadelphia, at 62nd; and Phoenix, at 81st. With the addition of an NBA franchise, this ranking of ours would soar. Darren Heitner, a contributor to Forbes writes, when weighing in on the topic: “Yum! Brands has already showed its commitment to Louisville sports by committing to $13.5 million over 10 years for the naming rights to Louisville’s downtown arena.” I believe with the new positions created, along with the many sponsors that would jump on an opportunity to support an NBA franchise in Louisville, and along with continual support from Yum! Brands, the city could support the costs of a team; which leads me into my next point.
Logistically, the city of Louisville may just be the ripest of all the cities in America that are possible relocation destinations for an NBA franchise. As mentioned previously, the sponsorship opportunities would make the transition seamless. The choices of corporate sponsorship are noteworthy: UPS, Humana Insurance, Ford, Papa John’s, and of course Yum! Brands. Sponsorship would not be a problem for an NBA team here. However, I think the greatest asset that would support the move is the quite simplest; the city already has an NBA arena: the beautiful KFC Yum! Center. Most possible relocation cities can’t say that they have an NBA arena waiting. So, no extra dollars would have to be spent concerning the construction of an NBA suitable arena. This move would be seamless because of these opportunities and assets.
The cultural impact is most likely the chief concern for most people thinking about the possible move. How would an NBA team affect our beloved Louisville Cardinals sports teams? Could they coexist? Would an NBA team detract from one of the best college sports-towns in America? The city of Louisville, and indeed the whole state of Kentucky, is a basketball state. There is no getting around that. We here love our basketball, and will always continue to do so. According to a recent poll conducted on Twitter (by Heitner), an overwhelming 90.2% voted in favor of Louisville as the best location for an NBA team over VA Beach and Seattle. This is a basketball-crazed city. Just think about this: Heitner, once again, reports that on one night — Dec. 8, 2010 — U of L basketball hosted San Francisco at the Yum! Center, while UK played against Notre Dame just a few miles away at Freedom Hall. U of L recorded an attendance of 21,049 fans that night, while UK recorded 17,404. If you do the math, that’s 38,453 basketball fans in one city, on one night. An NBA team would have a flourishing fan base in this city; just as the Kentucky Colonels did in the 70s, while co-existing with U of L hoops and UK hoops.
An NBA team would not only give us another basketball team to love, but the opportunity to see the best (players) in the world put on a show. Folks, that’s worth the price of admission. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has even expressed that extra dates need to be filled for use in our beautiful arena. An NBA team could instantly suit that notion. The mayor has also noted, after a meeting held last September with community leaders to discuss this possible move:
“There was a lot of excitement…about what an NBA team could mean for Louisville’s global recognition and as a job attractor and economic engine. There are many elements involved in a journey such as this… I’m excited to be part of the dialogue and I continue to believe we should be ready if an opportunity presents itself.”
Economically and culturally, an NBA team would be an incredible asset to this greatt city. I truly believe that the potential for success — on and off the court — for an NBA team in Louisville is too great for any franchise and re-locator to ignore. Not to mention how simple and in-place everything already is for the move; logistically, an NBA franchise to Louisville is extremely ideal.
So, an NBA team to Louisville: the first thing that enters my mind is the potential for endless possibilities and endless excitement on and off the court. After all, this is the possibility city.