In Conversation

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Sports are huge in Louisville and the surrounding area, with more than $120 million in revenue generated by the University of Louisville’s sports teams alone in 2016-17. Soccer fandom is prompting Louisville City FC to build a $65 million stadium.  Now, a local group is trying to position the city to lure an NBA team to town. That’s sparked the question: Does Louisville need a major league professional sports team? And could the city support one?

There hasn’t been a big league professional basketball team in Louisville since the Kentucky Colonels folded in the 1970s. Proponents say a pro basketball team in Louisville would create jobs, attract new fans and tourists and create millions in tax revenue for the city.

But there are obstacles. The team would likely need an NBA expansion to begin, along with approval by a majority of owners. The University of Louisville’s lease with the KFC Yum Center could pose complications if a professional team was trying to use the space too, and the overall endeavor would cost more than $1 billion.

This week, on In Conversation with Rick Howlett, we ask whether the city needs — and can support — a major league professional team.

Joining us are:

  • Dan Issel, president of NBA2LOU, the business group trying to land an NBA team
  • Kent Oyler, president of Greater Louisville Inc., the Louisville-area chamber of commerce
  • Dr. Patrick Rishe, Founding Director of the Sports Business Program at Washington University in St. Louis

Listen to In Conversation live on 89.3 WFPL Friday at 11 a.m. or follow along with our live tweets at @WFPLnews. Call with your questions or comments at 502-814-TALK or tweet us with the hashtag #WFPLconversation.  We’re also on Facebook.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.