In Conversation

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Soccer is big in Louisville. College basketball is huge. So why don’t we have a big-league professional team here? That’s what we talked about this week on In Conversation, with these guests:

    • 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

The NBA’s official position is that expansion isn’t on the table. But Dan Issel, president of NBA2LOU, has some doubts.

“In talking to some current and former administrators in the NBA front office, their feeling is that expansion is inevitable,” Issel said. “Because the owners are always looking for ways to make more money.”

He said revenue from things like ticket sales and TV contracts has to be split 50/50 between owners and players’ associations. But expansion fees go directly into the owners’ pockets.

“So the feeling is, it’s inevitable,” Issel said. “Do we know the timeline? No.”

Kent Oyler from GLI says having an NBA team could attract talent to the city, and increase Louisville’s national visibility.

“We that live here know our city. We love our city. It’s a great place, lots to do, lots of cultural attractions,” he said. “But if you get out of the city, and you’re trying to talk to somebody that’s in Chicago, or Austin, or Denver, they’ve heard of Louisville, but they really don’t know Louisville. We’re just not on the radar screen out of town.”

Oyler said it’s important to attract new folks because Louisville’s population numbers are flat, and there are around 27,000 open jobs.

“And if we want to get more people moving here, they have to start thinking of us,” he said.

In Conversation airs live on 89.3 WFPL, Friday mornings at 11. You can call the show during that hour at 502-814-TALK (8255). Let us know what you’d like to hear us tackle in a future show by filling out the form below.

Laura oversees WFPL's podcast strategy and produces Curious Louisville, where listeners submit questions and our reporters find out the answers.