Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher Leads Louisville Arena Unity Rally
Fletcher makes surprise visit to rally
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Surrounded by Louisville and state leaders, Governor Ernie Fletcher made an unannounced visit today to the Louisville Arena Unity Rally that was held in the Capitol Rotunda. The rally was organized to reinforce support for the arena project at the riverfront location, which the governor explained is the only place it can be located to maximize profits.
“There’s been a lot of speculation about where the arena should be located,” said Governor Fletcher. “But at the end of the day the arena will be built at the riverfront site. End of story.”
Also in attendance were Lt. Governor Steve Pence, Senate President David Williams (R-Burkesville), Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, University of Louisville President Dr. James Ramsey, Greater Louisville, Inc. president-elect Alice Houston and chairman of the Kentucky State Fair Board Tom Schiffano.
Lt. Governor Pence emphasized the arena at the riverfront is about long-term economic development. “We have scientifically chosen a site that will continue to pay the city and the state cultural and economic dividends for decades,” said Lt. Governor Pence. “The time has come to stop debating and start building the arena.”
The economic impact of the riverfront location was determined by the Arena Task Force which studied myriad options for more than eight months. The arena could generate an annual payroll of more than $6.3 million. There could be 4,000 to 5,000 people employed at one time or another during construction of the arena. There will be additional jobs at the hotel and retail space planned as part of the overall complex. It is estimated the hotel will employ 430 people at an annual payroll of $10 million. The task force reported the arena and hotel will have to purchase various goods and services from local suppliers who themselves will provide more jobs and revenue to the city and state.
Governor Fletcher explained the appropriation for the arena will come from the state’s bonding authority. The money does not come from the state’s General Fund or at the expense of programs. “This funding could only be used for construction projects. It could never be used for education, health care or Medicaid, said the governor. “Tying language into the budget to move the arena to another location does not equal more funding for Louisville.”
Senate President David Williams is ready to move this project forward and will not let politics stand in its way. "The Senate budget will not be site-specific regarding the Louisville arena and furthermore, I am certain that the Governor would veto any site-specific language and the Senate will uphold that veto," Williams stated.
Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson came to the Capitol to emphasize city leadership is completely behind the riverfront location. The mayor stressed now is not the time for cheap thinking. “It’s the best investment because it will serve as a catalyst that will spark private investment in the blocks surrounding Second and Main, including the old Water Co. block,” said the mayor. “It isn’t the cheapest choice, but it is the best choice.”
University of Louisville President Dr. James Ramsey stressed the importance of community collaboration and the big picture. "We're excited to see this unprecedented level of support and cooperation among the city, the state, the university and the business community,” said Dr. Ramsey. “Together, Louisville and Kentucky are thinking big."
Governor Fletcher also told the team about a telephone call he received yesterday. “Senator Mitch McConnell contacted me yesterday to say he is 100 percent behind the riverfront site.”