SBD/April 17, 2012/Facilities

Louisville Arena Authority To Form Committee To Study Management Of KFC Yum! Center

KFC Yum Center held 253 events in first year, compared to average of 126 in similar arenas
The Louisville Arena Authority Inc. yesterday voted “to form a special committee to study the management of the KFC Yum! Center and perhaps suggest a change in how the arena is operated,” according to John Karman III of Louisville BUSINESS FIRST. The move comes as a consultant “recommends the authority move away from staffing the downtown facility with state workers whose ‘high’ salaries are contributing to higher-than-projected expenses at the Yum Center.” Louisville Arena Authority Chair Dan Ulmer “will lead the special committee.” The group “is expected to choose between three scenarios: extending the current management agreement with the Kentucky State Fair Board, replacing the fair board with a third-party management firm or having the arena managed by arena authority personnel.” Ulmer said that among the topics the committee will consider “is whether to appoint a new general manager for the arena,” as former GM Ted Nicholson “was unexpectedly fired in February" by Kentucky State Fair Board President & CEO Harold Workman (, 4/16). Ulmer after the meeting said that “resolving the arena’s long-term management is a first step toward addressing the findings in consultant Venue Solutions Group’s report.” Kentucky State Fair Board Interim CFO Gary Stewart said that the arena “is expected to have an operating profit of $353,000 for 2011 when final numbers are released -- less than the $1.2 million originally budgeted.” In Louisville, Marcus Green reports Venue Solutions Group found that the building “generated higher revenues from its operations than all but one other arena studied, but its expenses were higher than its peers and ‘primarily driven by high staffing costs.’” The review also showed the venue's “64 full-time employees were the most among peer arenas, where the average staff was 37.” In its first year, KFC Yum! Center “held 253 events -- compared with an average of 126 in similar arenas.” But it held “fewer concerts and other money-making events, while it was the site of far more community events, such as meetings, banquets and open houses” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 4/17).
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