Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher announces next steps in Louisville arena process

Press Release Date:  Friday, September 30, 2005  
Contact Information:  Brett Hall
Michael Goins
Jodi Whitaker

Governor receives task force’s recommendations

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today received the final report from the Louisville Arena Task Force. The report includes recommendations from the task force involving the location, financing, use and operation of a proposed downtown arena and entertainment complex. 

“When I ran for governor, I talked about restoring hope and creating opportunity,” said Governor Ernie Fletcher. “I believe this project will create jobs and new revenue not only for Louisville, but for the entire commonwealth. I commend the task force for moving a project forward that has been only in the talking stages for decades.” 

On Monday, the task force approved the series of recommendations by a vote of 16-1. Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence served task force chairman.

“Governor Fletcher formed the task force with some of the best and brightest leaders of our community,” said Lieutenant Governor Pence. “After months of thorough and exhaustive review, we have reached a conclusion that we believe is in the best interest of the city, the commonwealth, and the taxpayers. I am pleased to report that the governor will be receiving our recommendation on time, completing the task force’s mission.”

“We still have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Governor Fletcher. “That’s why I am announcing steps I am taking today to help move this process forward. We will immediately begin searching for 10 people to be named to the quasi-public entity that will oversee and advise arena issues.”

Governor Fletcher also will ask his budget office and the Commerce Cabinet to look for ways to pay the costs for the early part of this process and provide detailed financial analysis to the legislature for their review by December 15th.   The governor also directed an initial environmental study be performed on the proposed location site.

The task force approved a downtown location for the arena and entertainment complex at a site commonly referred to as the “Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E)/ Riverfront site.” The site is bounded by River Road, Second, Third and Main Streets. It is currently home to electric and transmission equipment used by LG&E.

The proposed site is owned by LG&E and Humana, which owns a portion of the land. LG&E has agreed to move its equipment to make way for the proposed arena complex at a cost of approximately $78 million, which includes all purchase and relocation costs. The Humana property was appraised at $11.2 million.

The anticipated cost of the arena complex will be approximately $299 million. It will be paid for by a variety of different sources. There are 15 different revenue streams. They include naming rights, seat premiums, parking and rebated tax dollars that occur due to the creation of the arena complex.

The University of Louisville men’s and women’s basketball teams will be the primary tenants in the arena complex, although concerts, family shows and other major functions will be held as well. Initial plans call for the arena complex to be approximately 665,000 square feet. The task force recommended that the arena have 22,000 seats, 70 luxury suites, a practice facility and the ability to convert the facility into an ice rink for a minor league hockey team and family skating shows. The rest of the complex should contain a restaurant, a parking garage and retail shops.

The committee recommended that a 501c3, quasi-public corporation be formed to operate the arena complex. The governor would appoint 10 members to the board; the Louisville mayor would appoint five members. The Kentucky State Fair Board would manage the day-to-day operations of the arena complex, under the task force’s recommendations.

“I am honored to have served on this task force and believe that the near unanimous recommendation reflects the hard work and careful consideration of all involved,” said task force member and U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  “Lt. Governor Pence and Secretary Host led a fair and open process which sought to hear from all interested voices.  I look forward to developments in the coming months which will bring us closer to an exciting reality which benefits the University of Louisville, the City of Louisville, and the entire commonwealth.”

“I appreciate the governor’s leadership and hard work on pulling the task force together,” said task force member and U.S. Representative Anne Northup (R-KY). “This project is just what we need to increase the economic development of the Louisville community.”

“I appreciate Governor Fletcher’s leadership on this economic development investment that will pay dividends for the commonwealth and for Louisville for years to come,” said Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson.

The Governor’s Arena Task Force has been a model for building consensus on an important economic issue. He brought together all the key players to study and discuss options. As a result, the governor will head into the General Assembly with a clear, compelling plan that has united support from Louisville’s leaders. I look forward to working with Governor Fletcher and other leaders to make this vision a reality.”

“The Governor’s Arena Task Force accepted a daunting challenge and they delivered with a sound, fact-based recommendation on-time,” said Joe Reagan, President and CEO, Greater Louisville Inc.  “We’re grateful for their diligence and we will work hard to help make their recommendation reality.” 

Governor Fletcher created the Louisville Arena task Force April 25th. The group’s first meeting was May 23rd. The 18 members of the task are:

Lt. Gov. Steve Pence        Sen. Mitch McConnell        Rep. Anne Northup
Mayor Jerry Abramson        Tom Jurich        Jim Host
Sen. Dan Seum         Rep. Larry Clark        Councilman Kelly Downard
John Hindman         Jim Patterson        Alice Houston
Eddy Roberts            Cissy Musselman         John Schnatter
Celeste Lanier        Bill Samuels        Ron Carmicle

The task force was comprised of four working groups: Governance, Finance, Site Analysis, and Need, Use and Benefit.

 The task force and its working groups met 23 times and heard 75 presentations – not including one public hearing where 88 individuals and organizations had the chance to be heard. The task force also set up a Web site,, which included a feedback form and an unscientific web poll where nearly 540 individuals responded or voted on site preference.