Louisville Arena Gets A Name

The company that owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut will put its name on a new arena in Louisville under a 10-year, $13.5 million deal.

The arena under construction will be called the KFC Yum! Center under the deal announced Monday. Yum Brands, which owns KFC and the other two chains, is headquartered in Louisville. The deal also gives Yum as many as eight concession outlets inside the arena for its food.

The $238 million, 22,000-seat arena will be the new home of the University of Louisville men’s and women’s basketball teams when it officially opens in the fall. Yum Brands unfurled a temporary banner on the new facility Monday morning. Permanent signs are expected to go up in about a month.

“We have the best financial deal of any college facility in the country,” said Jim Host, chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority. “It’s a great, great deal for both.”

Yum Brands won out over four other finalists, Host said.

“I’m not going to tell you who they are because it’s over,” Host said.

Yum Brands CEO David Novak said the company had an interest in the naming rights when the project first came about four years ago.

“I think once we got in the game and got in the game seriously, nobody else really mattered,” Novak said.

At one point, Host said the arena’s naming rights could be worth as much as $40 million over 20 years. On Monday, Host said that figure now includes various sponsorships for features inside the arena along with the overall naming rights.

“We’re just tickled to death with the way it worked out,” Host said. “We have done far better with corporate sponsorships, other than naming rights than we expected.”

To date, Team Services and Louisville Sports and Entertainment Properties, a property of Learfield Sports, are responsible for generating a total of more than $37.5 million in arena sponsorships. Among the sponsorships is a 10-year, $10 million agreement made with Norton Healthcare for an immediate care center at the arena.

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said the exposure will be good for Yum, which employs about 1,400 people in Louisville, as well as the city.

“This is the icing on the cake, the cherry on top the icing,” Abramson said.

The arena is being financed by bonds, which will have a total cost, including interest, of nearly $585.8 million and will be paid off over 30 years from arena revenue. Kentucky lawmakers appropriated $75 million toward the arena, and the city is contributing $206 million. Other arena revenue will also help pay off the bonds.

The bonds are insured by Assured Guaranty.

The Louisville women’s basketball team is scheduled to open the arena with a game against national power Tennessee. The men’s team has not yet completed an opening game opponent.

The facility is also scheduled to host the 2012 NCAA volleyball championship.