SBD/April 19, 2011/Franchises

Louisville's Efforts To Land NBA Team On Hold Until New CBA Reached

The "pursuit of a professional basketball franchise for Louisville is on hold -- at least until" the NBA’s labor dispute with its players over a new CBA is settled, according to Sheldon Shafer of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. Louisville lawyer J. Bruce Miller, who “has been paid by the city to lead the local effort to land a pro franchise,” said that the “uncertainty over the labor agreement has probably dampened Louisville’s hope of landing an NBA team.” He confirmed that he has “obtained a signed letter of commitment from a group of five overseas investors who have agreed to put a team in Louisville if they are granted either a new franchise or the rights to relocate an existing team.” Miller said the arrangement is “a no-shopping agreement,” meaning the investors “wouldn’t try to get a better deal in another city.” He has declined “to name the investors or even their country.” But with the labor situation “unsettled, the unidentified potential foreign investors in a Louisville team are ... reluctant to commit to putting up a substantial sum in connection with any deal.” Still, Miller “expressed guarded optimism that, if and when the labor dispute is settled, Louisville has a legitimate chance to land an NBA team.” He said that if Louisville “gets an NBA team, he would like to talk with the University of Louisville about sharing the new KFC Yum! Center, the Cardinals’ home arena.” But Miller said that “it appears that U of L and other commitments make it prohibitive for any new NBA team to play at the new arena and that Freedom Hall is a more feasible home court.” He said the overseas investors “have indicated a willingness to pay for upgrading Freedom Hall to acceptable NBA standards, at a cost of perhaps" $70M (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 4/19).
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