SBD/Issue 151/Facilities & Venues

Louisville Officials Content With Yum! Brands Entitlement

Yum! Brands' 10-Year, $13.5M Arena Deal
Falls Short Of Projections Of $2-2.5M Per Year

Yum! Brands' 10-year, $13.5M deal to name the new downtown Louisville arena the KFC Yum! Center "fell short" of projections of $2-2.5M per year, but Louisville Arena Authority Chair Jim Host said he is "tickled to death with the way it worked out," according to Marcus Green of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. Host: "We have done far better with (other) corporate sponsorships ... than we projected. So if you put the two together, we're in better shape today than we projected we were going to be." Naming rights are "one of several sources of revenue arena planners are counting on to pay off debt" on the $238M facility. To "meet projections over the next decade," about $51.8M is "needed from naming rights and other advertising," and the Yum! deal brings the total to $37.5M. Host said that "other deals in the works would push overall sponsorships to $42[M] and more are expected." Host also said that the arena has about $4M in sponsorship revenue "allocated for debt in 2011, even before the anticipated new sponsorships are announced;" estimates indicated that about $4.3M "is needed." New York Univ. sports management professor Robert Boland said, "Any time you get a deal done in this climate, it's a good deal. This is definitely a buyer-favored market." Boland added that he is "not surprised Yum is paying less than earlier estimates," and he "likened Yum's sponsorship" to Target's naming rights at Target Field. Boland said that in both cases the sponsors are "local and will likely have staying power." Host said that four other firms were "seriously considered for the naming rights." He "declined to name them," but said that they "weren't local companies." Meanwhile, Green notes the naming-rights deal "doesn't include Pizza Hut sales during University of Louisville basketball games," as Papa John's will be the "exclusive pizza provider at U of L games and other university events" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 4/20).

WHAT'S IN A NAME? YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Eisenberg wrote nobody "should be naive enough to think we can stop the encroachment of corporate America into collegiate athletics," but the name of the new arena "would have been a nice place for Louisville to draw the line." Instead of "shaving a few million dollars off the asking price and going with something like the Louisville Center sponsored by Yum Brands, the school chose money at the expense of class" by naming the arena the KFC Yum! Center (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/19). ESPN.com's Eamonn Brennan wrote the name is "just kind of funny." Brennan: "It doesn't exactly ring like 'Freedom Hall,' does it?" (ESPN.com, 4/19).

HIGH-PROFILE OPENER: In Louisville, Michael Grant reports the Univ. of Louisville men's basketball team "will face Butler on Nov. 16" in the first regular-season game at the KFC Yum! Center. Two exhibition games are "tentatively scheduled against Northern Kentucky and Kentucky Wesleyan" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 4/20).

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