KFC Yum! Center

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KFC Yum! Center
KFC Yum! Centre Logo.png
KFC Yum Center.jpg
The KFC Yum! Center in 2011 as seen from Main Street in Downtown Louisville.
Address1 Arena Plaza
Location Louisville, Kentucky
Coordinates 38°15′27″N85°45′14″W / 38.25750°N 85.75389°W / 38.25750; -85.75389 Coordinates: 38°15′27″N85°45′14″W / 38.25750°N 85.75389°W / 38.25750; -85.75389
Owner Louisville Arena Authority
Operator Anschutz Entertainment Group
Capacity Basketball: 22,090
Volleyball: 21,500
End stage: 17,500
Max: 22,090
Denny Crum Court [1]
Broke groundNovember 28, 2006 [2]
OpenedOctober 10, 2010
Construction cost $238 Million [3]
Architect Populous (formerly HOK Sport) [4]
Louis and Henry Group [4]
C.L. Anderson Architecture [4]
Jill Lewis Smith Architects [4]
Project managerPC Sports [5]
Structural engineer Walter P Moore [6]
Services engineerSmith Seckman Reid, Inc.
General contractorM. A. Mortenson Company [6]
Louisville Cardinals (NCAA)
Men's basketball (2010–present)
Women's basketball (2010–present)
Women's volleyball (2011–2017)

The KFC Yum! Center [7] is a multi-purpose sports arena in Downtown Louisville, Kentucky, United States. It is named after the KFC restaurant chain and Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC. Adjacent to the Ohio River waterfront, it is located on Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets and opened on October 10, 2010. [8] [9] The arena is part of a $450 million project that includes a 975-car parking structure and floodwall.

Louisville, Kentucky City in Kentucky

Louisville is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the 29th most-populous city in the United States. It is one of two cities in Kentucky designated as first-class, the other being Lexington, the state's second-largest city. Louisville is the historical seat and, since 2003, the nominal seat of Jefferson County, on the Indiana border.

KFC American fast food restaurant chain

KFC, also known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, is an American fast food restaurant chain headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, that specializes in fried chicken. It is the world's second-largest restaurant chain after McDonald's, with 22,621 locations globally in 136 countries as of December 2018. The chain is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, a restaurant company that also owns the Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and WingStreet chains.

Yum! Brands American fast food company.

Yum! Brands, Inc., or Yum! and formerly Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc., is an American fast food corporation listed on the Fortune 500. Yum! operates the brands Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and WingStreet worldwide, except in China, where the brands are operated by a separate company, Yum China. Prior to 2011, Yum! also owned Long John Silver's and A&W Restaurants.


The Louisville Cardinals men's and women's basketball teams from the University of Louisville are the primary tenants of the arena complex. [8] The U of L women's volleyball team began using the arena as a part-time home in 2011, [10] and made the arena its main home in 2012. [11] With 22,090 seats for basketball, it is the largest arena in the United States by seating capacity designed primarily for basketball, [lower-alpha 1] and the second-largest used for college basketball, behind the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University, a venue built to house football and lacrosse in addition to basketball. The arena's current attendance record for a sporting event is 22,815, set March 9, 2013 against Notre Dame (men's basketball). The current attendance record for any event is 23,085, set March 9, 2019 when Metallica played their WorldWired Tour. [13]

The Louisville Cardinals men's basketball team is the men's college basketball program representing the University of Louisville in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) of NCAA Division I. The Cardinals have officially won two NCAA championships in 1980 and 1986 ; and have officially been to 8 Final Fours in 38 official NCAA tournament appearances while compiling 61 tournament wins.

The Louisville Cardinals women's basketball team represents the University of Louisville in women's basketball. The school competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The Cardinals play home basketball games at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

University of Louisville Public university in Kentucky

The University of Louisville is a public university in Louisville, Kentucky, a member of the Kentucky state university system. When founded in 1798, it was the first city-owned public university in the United States and one of the first universities chartered west of the Allegheny Mountains. The university is mandated by the Kentucky General Assembly to be a "Preeminent Metropolitan Research University". The university enrolls students from 118 of 120 Kentucky counties, all 50 U.S. states, and 116 countries around the world.


Early arena planning focused on two potential arena sites: one owned by the Louisville Water Company bounded by Liberty Street, Muhammad Ali Blvd, 2nd and 3rd Streets, and one owned by Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) on the waterfront between 2nd and 3rd Streets on Main. [14] In March 2006, University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino stated he would not coach in an arena built at the water company site. [15] This came at a time when the House budget committee earmarked funding for the arena only if it was built at the water company site. Others, including Papa John's Pizza founder John Schnatter, a major donor to the U of L athletic program, criticized the LG&E location due to its higher cost.

Louisville Water Company American water utility company

The Louisville Water Company is a water company based in in Louisville, Kentucky.

Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) is a utilities company based in Louisville, Kentucky. A subsidiary of PPL Corporation through the LG&E and KU Energy subsidiary, LG&E serves over 350,000 electric and over 300,000 natural gas customers, covers an area of 700 square miles (1800 km²), and has a total regulated electric generation capacity of 3,514 megawatts.

Rick Pitino American basketball coach

Richard Andrew Pitino is an American basketball coach, who last coached Panathinaikos of the Greek Basket League and the EuroLeague. He has been the head coach of several teams in NCAA Division I and in the NBA, including Boston University (1978–1983), Providence College (1985–1987), the New York Knicks (1987–1989), the University of Kentucky (1989–1997), the Boston Celtics (1997–2001) and the University of Louisville (2001–2017).

On March 10, 2006, Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher announced at a Louisville Arena Unity Rally that the location of the new arena would be at the LG&E site along the riverfront to maximize profits. [16] The unexpected visit was supported by Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson.

Governor of Kentucky head of state and of government of the U.S. commonwealth of Kentucky

The Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is the head of Kentucky's executive branch of government. Fifty-seven men and one woman have served as Governor of Kentucky. The governor's term is four years in length; since 1992, incumbents have been able to seek re-election once before becoming ineligible for four years. Throughout the state's history, four men have served two non-consecutive terms as governor, and two others have served two consecutive terms. Kentucky is one of only five U.S. states that hold gubernatorial elections in odd-numbered years. The current governor is Matt Bevin, who was first elected in 2015.

Ernie Fletcher American physician and politician

Ernest Lee Fletcher is an American physician and politician. In 1998, he was elected to the first of three consecutive terms in the United States House of Representatives; he resigned in 2003 after being elected the 60th governor of Kentucky and served until 2007. Prior to his entry into politics, Fletcher was a family practice physician and a Baptist lay minister. He is the second physician to be elected Governor of Kentucky; the first was Luke P. Blackburn in 1879. He is a member of the Republican Party.

Jerry Abramson Kentucky politician

Jerry Edwin Abramson is an American Democratic politician who was the 55th Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky. On November 6, 2014, Governor Steve Beshear announced that Abramson would step down from his position as Lieutenant Governor to accept the job of Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Obama White House. He was replaced by former State Auditor Crit Luallen.

One month later on April 23, 2006, the Louisville Arena Authority released the design for the interior. [9] The number of seats increased from the original 19,000 to 22,000; it would be divided up between 11,348 seats in the lower bowl, with the remainder on the upper tier. The seat width also increased from 19 to 20 inches. Also included in the release was a proposed sports bar that would be located on the main concourse; it would be open year-round and have views of the Ohio River. The number of suites would increase to 72 that would be located on two levels between the main and upper concourses; they would be twice as large as those in Freedom Hall. A public plaza and concourse along Main Street was also revealed. [9]

Freedom Hall Arena in Kentucky, United States

Freedom Hall is a multi-purpose arena in Louisville, Kentucky, on the grounds of the Kentucky Exposition Center, which is owned by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It is best known for its use as a basketball arena, serving as the home of the University of Louisville Cardinals It has hosted Motley Crue, Elvis Presley, The Doors, Janis Joplin, Creed, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and many more. As well as many Weeks events men's team from 1956 to 2010, the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association from 1970 until the ABA-NBA merger in June 1976, and the Louisville Cardinals women's team from its inception in 1975 to 2010. Freedom Hall's last regular tenant was the Kentucky Stickhorses of the North American Lacrosse League, who used it from 2011 until the team folded in 2013. From 2015 to 2019 it has hosted the VEX Robotics Competition World Championships yearly in mid-April.

Prior to the release of the design, an arena report urged the facility to incorporate energy-saving elements into the construction. [17] Other recommendations included the avoidance of large, blank walls, the inclusion of public art, and the provision of year-round uses inside the building.

On May 21, 2007, the Louisville Arena Authority voted unanimously to remove a hotel from the arena project. [8] The 425-room hotel, which was envisioned as one way to pay off the project, was deleted because other revenues to cover the $252 million construction cost were projected to be higher than expected. The hotel would have also taken land away from a public plaza along Main Street. The Greater Louisville Hotel and Lodging Association also supported the measure, stating that downtown Louisville had enough projected rooms. [8]

The hotel was expected to contribute $1.3 million in annual lease payments, but other sources of revenue were hoped to cover the $573 million in total debt over 30 years on a $339 million bond issue for the arena. Originally, the Kentucky Finance Cabinet projected $211 million in new tax revenues in 2005. [8] A more recent and comprehensive survey was completed recently and the projected revenue increased to $265 million. The other sources of revenue to cover the deletion of the hotel include, [8]

The removal of the hotel would allow for a wider Main Street plaza and would allow for new features, such as a Washington Street entrance. [8] It would also allow for more design flexibility and would lend itself to host after-hour concerts and other events on the plaza.

On April 19, 2010, it was announced that Louisville-based fast food chain Yum! Brands would pay $13.5 million for the naming rights [18] and would sell the products of three of its chains—KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell—in seven concession stands within the arena. [7]


The arena's features include an integrated scoring and video display system, which includes large LED video displays within the seating bowl, with the display and control system provided by Daktronics of Brookings, South Dakota.


The arena seen from the Ohio River, with Clark Memorial Bridge to the left. Louisville waterfront arena cropped.jpg
The arena seen from the Ohio River, with Clark Memorial Bridge to the left.

As a result of the subtracted hotel and the revised projected revenues, the arena, which would have lost $123,000 a year originally, might turn a small profit. [8] The arena would generate $9.2 million a year in rent, merchandise, concessions and other revenues, along with funds from a $2 ticket tax on every Louisville men's basketball game during the first 30 years of the arena's operation. The arena would spend just under $9 million a year, generating an annual profit of $196,000.

Another reason for the revised operating expenses is the reimbursement fee that the Louisville Arena Authority must pay to the Kentucky State Fair Board for the arena's impact on Freedom Hall. [8] The decrease in revenues, from $1.3 million to $738,000 during the first 10 years of operations of the new arena, is the result of a revision taking into account fewer events for the center.

On May 28, 2007, it was announced that the Louisville Metro Council was to propose an arena-financing deal that would save city taxpayers $3.4 million/year, or $100 million over three decades. [19] The proposal, required the arena officials to exhaust other revenue sources, such as naming rights and luxury suite sales, before asking the metro government to pay more than its minimum pledge. The minimum pledge was $206 million towards the construction of the arena in annual installments between 2010 and 2039. Under the deal, the Louisville Arena Authority can ask the local government for up to $3.5 million more a year to cover the debt only if at least five other sources are drained. If the Louisville Arena Authority would have to use additional city funds for two straight years, the Louisville Metro Council has the right to audit the arena's revenues.

The financing agreement allowed $339 million in bonds through the state of Kentucky's Economic Development Finance Authority to be issued to construct the $252 million arena. [19] The total debt on the bonds, $573 million over 30 years, will be paid through several sources. These include the city's $206 million commitment, $265 million from a tax-increment financing district, $179 million from advertising rights inside the arena, $63 million from luxury box sales, and at least $37 million in arena naming rights. The tax-increment financing district will allow part of the anticipated growth in state taxes to help pay for the arena. The arena's share of that revenue is capped at $265 million, although the project will be able to use the excess revenues to pay down the debt. It is expected to generate $574 million over 20 years.

In September 2008, financing was completed for the new waterfront arena.


The arena construction site in March 2010 Picture 2146LouisvilleArena.jpg
The arena construction site in March 2010

On May 3, 2007, construction began on a new electrical substation for Downtown Louisville. [20] The previous substation, located on the block of River Road, Main, 2nd and 3rd Streets, was relocated across the street at 3rd and River Road. The new substation, projected to cost $63 million, was completed in October 2008, at which time the land that housed the old substation was transferred to the Louisville Arena Authority for construction of the new arena. Work started on the new arena in November 2008. The complex was officially completed on October 10, 2010.

In June 2010, Gov. Steve Beshear and Mayor Jerry Abramson announced a new $3 million streetscape improvement project directly underneath the Clark Memorial Bridge, a three-block area from Main Street to River Road, which will be transformed into a plaza. This includes a new decorative lighting system under the refurbished Clark Memorial Bridge, wide sidewalks, seats, new pedestrian and festival areas, and extensive plantings, making this an inviting promenade for the new KFC YUM! Center. The project will be completed in time for the October 2010 opening of the arena. [21]

In 2010, the glassed-in skywalk system, called Louie Link, was extended across 3rd Street from the new $16 million Skywalk Garage, an eight-level, 860-space parking facility on 3rd Street, to the new KFC Yum! Center.


The Task Force meetings were not without controversy. At first, task force member and University of Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich, along with University of Louisville president James Ramsey and Task Force member John Schnatter (founder of Papa John's Pizza), were ardently opposed to a downtown site and supported instead a campus arena, or a new arena built near Freedom Hall at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Jurich and Ramsey would later support the waterfront site. Schnatter, joined by fellow task force member and Humana co-founder David Jones, strongly supported a new arena at the water company site, located four blocks down 2nd Street, or the Exposition Center, which was the cheapest option. They paid over $200,000 for a study that showed the water company site would be much less expensive than the riverfront site. However, the two dropped their lobbying effort after it did not seem to change the minds of the rest of the task force. [22]

In the final site recommendation vote, Schnatter was the only one to vote against the waterfront site.


2019 [23]

DateMain performer(s)Tour / Concert nameAttendanceRevenue
January 25 Alan Jackson Tour
March 9 Metallica WorldWired Tour 23,085$2,531,895
March 12 Kiss End of the Road World Tour 14,638$1,444,057
April 4 Kenny Chesney Songs for the Saints Tour
May 8 Tool Fear Inoculum
August 3 Shawn Mendes Shawn Mendes: The Tour
October 9 Phil Collins Not Dead Yet Tour
October 11 Thomas Rhett Very Hot Summer Tour
October 17 Carrie Underwood Cry Pretty Tour 360
October 22 Celine Dion Courage World Tour [24]
November 2 Chris Stapleton Chris Stapleton's All-American Road Show Tour
November 6 The Chainsmokers World War Joy Tour
November 9 Keith Sweat Louisville Soul Music Festival
November 11 Slayer The Final Campaign
November 6 For King & Country Burn The Ships Tour
December 7 Gaither Homecoming Gaither Christmas
December 11 Luke Combs Beer Never Broke My Heart

See also


  1. Before the 2019–20 season, this distinction belonged to Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, home to the Cardinals' archrival, the Kentucky Wildcats. A renovation project during the 2019 offseason reduced that venue's capacity from 23,500 to 20,545. [12] The largest arena in the U.S. ever to have been designed primarily for basketball is Thompson–Boling Arena at the University of Tennessee, which opened with a capacity of 24,000 but has since been downsized to 21,678. The largest NBA arena by basketball seating capacity is United Center in Chicago, with 20,917.

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  11. "Women's Voileyball: 2012–2013 Schedule". University of Louisville Department of Athletics. Archived from the original on July 9, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  12. Pilgrim, Jack (October 8, 2019). "Rupp Arena Unveils New Upper-Level Chair Back Seats". Kentucky Sports Radio. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  13. WKYT News Staff (March 11, 2019). "Metallica concert breaks KFC Yum! Center attendance record". wkyt.com. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
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  23. https://www.concertarchives.org/venues/kfc-yum-center--2
  24. https://www.celinedion.com/in-concert/