Enduring Freedom

Just because the high-profile University of Louisville basketball teams are leaving their home since 1956 doesn’t mean Freedom Hall is getting mothballed.

So says Harold Workman, president of the Kentucky State Fair Board, which will manage Freedom Hall and its $238 million counterpart, which is expected to open in the fall.

Freedom Hall “will absolutely still be standing” 20 years from now, Workman told Louisville’s Courier-Journal. In fact, the departure of the Cardinals “will open up a lot of good winter dates.”

Workman admitted there would be an initial financial loss as the arena adjusts to the absence of its main tenants, but the fair board signed a contract with AEG a year ago, which agreed to bring in a minimum of 10 events to Freedom Hall annually.

Freedom Hall could remain an attractive concert venue, as the new arena to be built in downtown Louisville will likely command a much higher rent.

Workman doubted that there would be any loss of trade shows, which are attracted to the 1.2 million square feet of exhibition space, according to the paper. Workman and his staff are reportedly negotiating with as many as three new conventions and five new trade shows.

Meanwhile, the Louisville Arena Authority, which is building the new downtown facility, has agreed to compensate the fair board if Freedom Hall generates less than $11.7 million annually.

The paper did note that many high-profile events, like the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic, the circus and Harlem Globetrotters, will likely follow the Cards to the new digs.