The University of Louisville begins a new era in its tradition-rich basketball program with its inaugural season in the sparkling new KFC Yum! Center, located on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Louisville.
The 22,000-seat multi-purpose arena is truly a state-of-the-art facility, which will rival any, including those in which a professional franchise is the primary tenant. Built at a cost of $238 million, the arena features the latest in technological advancements - including WiFi within the arena bowl for patrons - and provides a superb experience for fans to enjoy.
The Cardinals had played basketball since 1956 in Freedom Hall, where they amassed a 682-141 record in 54 seasons and ranked among the top five nationally in attendance for the last 29 straight seasons. Freedom Hall - which currently remains in operation - had been the site of six NCAA Final Fours, four additional NCAA men's basketball tournament events and 10 conference tournaments in which U of L participated.
Owned by the Louisville Arena Authority and operated by AEG Facilities, the KFC Yum! Center is bordered by Main Street on the south, Third Street on the west, River Road on the north and Second Street to the east.
U of L's men's and women's teams have permanent locker rooms, including expansive space for its coaching staffs, equipment, training room and a lounge area for each team. There are five additional team locker rooms, two officials' locker rooms, five star dressing rooms, a full-function media work room and a full-sized basketball practice court on the event level. An interior truck staging area can accommodate three television production trucks and a nearby area includes four loading docks.
The seven levels of the arena (including the upper catwalk) include a collective 721,762 square feet, or roughly the area of 13 football fields. The 22,000 seats - split about evenly between the upper and lower arena - include 71 luxury suites, 62 four- or six-seat premium boxes, over 2,000 side-court club seats and four party suites with a seating capacity of 32 each. Centerplate is the concessionaire for the facility, which has 27 permanent stands, 32 portable locations, two fixed novelty stands and 234 total points of sale.
After passing through the one and a half acre landscaped entry plaza that features a basketball-themed fountain, entering fans can visit the 2,500-square foot U of L adidas store, the 3,000-square foot U of L Hall of Honor, which features former Cardinal greats, or head to their seats using one of the eight escalators or seven elevators within the building.
Lounge space is abundant within the arena. Four spacious donor rooms are available for Cardinal fans, including three that overlook the Ohio River. The 7,000-square foot main concourse restaurant overlooks the river and a main concourse sports bar has views directly into the arena bowl. Two 4,000-square foot club lounges on the event level, as well as the terrace club and premium box lounges, provide amenities for their respective patrons.
The arena has quickly established itself on the entertainment scene, hosting such acts as the Eagles and Justin Bieber within the first month of opening its doors to the public. The KFC Yum! Center will serve as the site for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament second and third rounds in March 2012 and the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship in December 2012.
Fun Figures about the KFC Yum! Center