Both the University of Louisville athletics association board and the Board of Trustees Thursday approved a revised lease agreement for the KFC Yum! Center. Under the agreement, U of L will pay more to host events there.
Through the new agreement, U of L athletics would pay $2.42 million more for its lease with the center. Athletics plans to compensate for the additional expense by tacking a $2 surcharge on men’s basketball tickets and could eventually charge admission to all sporting events. In a morning meeting of the Athletics Board, Athletics Director Tom Jurich said the additional expense will hit his department hard.
“We’re going to have to look for all kinds of ideas now. I think everything’s on the table,” Jurich said during the meeting. “I keep hearing from everybody that ‘the university, we’re one family.’ I hope that is true. I hope I can come to see that, because this is tough.”
Jurich said it’s unclear whether students would be charged for tickets as well.
During the meeting, board members protested negative news coverage of the athletics department, saying athletics had been successful in revenue, graduation rates and sports performance.
Agreement Approved Despite Reservations
The athletics board approved the lease agreement, despite the reservations of some including current Athletics Association board member and former Board of Trustees Chair Larry Benz. Jurich supported the new lease agreement during the meeting.
U of L Board of Trustees met this afternoon, and approved the agreement after a contentious discussion. The Louisville Arena Authority is also meeting this afternoon to review the deal.
University Interim President Greg Postel said this would be U of L’s final discussion on redrafting its lease.
“We’re not going to have this conversation again. We’re not going find ourselves two, three, four years down the line being asked to participate in another such exercise,” Postel said in the meeting. “We’re paying a very fair share — I think a lot of people would say more than a fair share — for this facility.”
Speculation the center’s finances were dwindling started last year when businessman Denis Frankenberger alleged the stadium would go bankrupt. Legislators responded, asking Kentucky auditor Mike Harmon to investigate. Harmon found financing for the center was based on unrealistic projections, and suggested the U of L Athletics Association pay more for its lease.
This story has been updated.