Jul 31, 2013

Republic Bank CEO, Steve Trager, Praises KFC Yum! Center Successes

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Louisville, KY (July 26, 2013) - An open letter to the Courier Journal:

There has been much discussion regarding the cost of the Yum! Center and questioning of the investment our city has made. I would even consider myself one of the original skeptics of the arena, its cost and the selected location. My firsthand story is one that highlights the great value the arena brings to our community.

When the arena project became a reality my wife and I decided to purchase a small condo downtown since I already worked downtown and we are regular attendees at U of L basketball games. I rationalized that rather than spend 25 minutes each way traveling to my suburban home after the games and back the next morning for work, why not get a place downtown.

Since our purchase more than three years ago, which was precipitated by the arena, we have transitioned from part-time downtown residents to full-time and witnessed a remarkable transformation of activity.

With every passing day we see more people, particularly lifelong suburbanites, gravitating downtown, resulting in a vibrant seven-day-a-week center city. What was once a ghost town after hours has come to life. It’s even more interesting that many of our friends and acquaintances after spending time at the arena and witnessing our style of living have either purchased condos downtown or are currently in the market to do so. Clearly our community leaders built it and “they have come.”

While the first-class events that occur at the arena obviously bring people downtown, those same people are coming downtown on a regular basis as a result of the enjoyment experienced at U of L games and other Yum! Center events, which resulted in disproving the myths about parking, crime and other inconveniences. I certainly don’t hear much from those that mourned the loss of Freedom Hall, where traffic and parking were a nightmare. Downtown has become the place to eat, drink and play and the clear impetus was construction of the arena.

I also questioned the cost of building something so grand when we could have done something on a less expensive scale. But when the arena opened for tours prior to the first event and thousands showed up to see our community jewel, it struck me that there was great value in having something in this community that all of us lifers could call “the best.”

It’s special when you have something in your community that is recognized as the best and everyone is proud to show it off. Make no mistake: The unparalleled quality of the shows we are attracting at the Yum! is clear evidence of the arena’s reputation as the best.

Thanks to those who had the tremendous foresight to build the Yum! Center that has made downtown a special place where many want to be.

Chairman and CEO –

Republic Bank