The chair of the Republican caucus in the Louisville Metro Council says a study on attracting an NBA franchise shows the city needs to improve its business climate and lift tax burdens.
A summary of the report, which was commissioned by Greater Louisville Inc., found Louisville has an enthusiastic fan base and downtown arena to attract a professional basketball franchise. What the city lacks is a proper corporate base to lease the necessary amount of suites at the KFC Yum Center.
At least one city lawmaker argues that illustrates a larger problem regarding burdensome government taxes, which he claims limit Louisville’s business growth that would attract the NBA and other amenities.
“We are a hamster on an exercise wheel: we work, we work, we work. We get off it, but yet we’re still stuck in the cage of state and government regulation,” says Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7. “That’s why this whole state and particularly Louisville can’t do anything because we have politicians that can’t get their head out of the clouds and get down to the brass tacks of doing things and changing this tax structure.”
Fleming and others point out Louisville is ranked the fifth most tax burdened city in the county, but the GLI study makes no direction mention of the city or state tax system as a deterrent for professional basketball.
The study does say an NBA franchise would likely need a “disproportionately higher level of support per company” and notes Louisville lacks the corporate depth to do such.
“A NBA franchise in Louisville would likely shift existing corporate funds rather than expand the base of support available within the community for sport and entertainment in at least the short-term,” the study says.
It’s hard to draw further conclusions because GLI has refused requests to release the full report. In a statement, GLI spokeswoman Carmen Hickerson told WFPL the study was privately funded and will not be released to the public.
“The study was conducted for GLI and its internal use only,” she says.
Fleming says he understands the decision made by city’s chamber of commerce decision, but because they receive taxpayer dollars GLI should share the entire study with at least Metro Council members.
“If there’s nothing to hide then let’s go ahead and get it out there. Unless there’s another alternative or another purpose that this study did, and this is just an adjunct for that private funder. And I respect that, but I would like to see them release it,” he says.