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Host’s Arena Wake-up Call

July 13th, 2009 by admin · 12 Comments

It’s really hard to be a skeptic on the arena project when you’re around Jim Host. And even when it’s 7 a.m. on Monday morning, he’s the only one who’s already been up for three hours ready to go.

The Arena Authority chairman spoke at the ‘Ville Voice Breakfast of Champions this morning at White Oak at Artemisia. He showed that cool video of the place, and talked about all the wonderful events that are going to be held there.

For one, I didn’t know the first game scheduled is between the University of Tennessee women and U of L. Or that there’s really no need to worry about parking, because there’s already so much near the arena. That on Aug. 4 there’s a big announcement coming about “major” conventions coming to Louisville because of the arena. And, finally, that at next week’s Arena Authority meeting, there’s going to be news about the progress of naming rights sales and advertising.

And last week he spent some time meeting with NCAA officials, working the arena into the NCAA’s plans for first/second round and regional tournament basketball schedules starting in 2011.

I learned a little more, but Host assured me that the rest was off the record, meant only for our early morning crowd.

Perhaps more fascinating was Host’s story of his personal schedule, which includes a usual wake-up at 4, driving here from Lexington in time to spend a few hours reading newspapers downtown, before getting started on meetings on the project. He fields a dozen questions and never hesitates with his answers, speaking with expertise on everything from the financial package to Garth Brooks to parking. By the way, he wants to bring Springsteen here, but says that’s all up to the promoter that’s working hard to bring some big names in.

He admits he’s in his 70s, joking that old age is always 15 years older than you are now. And when asked what he’ll do when the arena is completed, Host says he’s making plans to put more effort into a company he owns.

Tags: Arena · Construction · Downtown · Sports · University of Louisville

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 DICK WILSON // Jul 13, 2009 at 10:26 am

    way worthy commentary – and quick……..I love this way of getting news quick and accurately…..and personally….xoxo dick

  • 2 AB // Jul 13, 2009 at 10:26 am

    McCheese will try to take all the credit for the arena, but it would never have happened without Host. Maybe he’d like to do a stint as our next mayor.

  • 3 Mark // Jul 13, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    I like to see Springsteen whenever I can, but rather than wait until a possible 2010-11 tour why doesn’t Sexton get him to Churchill Downs this fall? The band is touring and has some gaps before hitting the east coast metros in October.

  • 4 David Harpe // Jul 13, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Freedom Hall: 19,000 dedicated, on-site parking spots adjacent to the facility.

    Downtown Arena: 13,000 SHARED parking spots scattered across several different garages and surface lots within a several block radius.

    Schedule for Ohio River bridge construction:
    http://www.kyinbridges.com/project/schedule-and-cost.aspx

    That’s all you really need to know about the downtown arena experience.

  • 5 Mark H (Not Hebert) // Jul 13, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Your correct David:

    “Freedom Hall: 19,000 dedicated, on-site parking spots adjacent to the facility.”

    But don’t forget

    Freedom Hall: Tractor pulls, B-rated concerts, poor convention draw due to lack of ancillary activities nearby, limited if no new event availability.

    I know it sucks, but let’s keep Louisville the same….

    That’s all you need to know about the Louisvillian experience.

  • 6 David Harpe // Jul 13, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    You don’t think we’ll have Tractor Pulls and B-rated concerts in the new arena? Guess again.

    Change is good.

    Arbitrary change without planning is not. That is truly the Louisville way. (ref: 4th Street Galleria/Live/etc., Belvedere, the entire East End, etc.) This is another iteration of the same.

    New arena: Good.
    Jamming it into the worst possible location in the city: Bad.

  • 7 Mark H (Not Hebert) // Jul 13, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    At least we have the opportunity to have something other than tractor pulls. Besides, two tractor pulls in town instead of one is good.

    As far as the location, I still have to support the move for the riverside location for the arena because of the costs involved, a private developer would have never developed that area. To place the area on the tract that could be commercially developed would be eliminated a potential development area in the future.

    Placing the new area on campus or the Fairgrounds is just stupid because of the lack of any ancillary commercial development potential.

  • 8 David Harpe // Jul 13, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Yep, plenty of room for new commercial development at the riverfront site. After all, nothing is currently near there…just the main downtown business district.

    To have ancillary commercial development, you need cheap, available land…not something you find readily in a downtown area.

  • 9 slim // Jul 13, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Host is a saint. He’s 78 years old and works like a dog to get this done for Louisville. People who question his motives are fools.

  • 10 Charlie // Jul 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I vote with Slim.

  • 11 Chuck // Jul 14, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I have to question why a carpetbagger from Lexington has the rights to manage this whole thing in Louisville. You’re telling me that we couldn’t get someone to design the arena from a well known firm such as HOK and for such a company to do the project design and development. I just find Mr. Host to be too much of a political insider to be involved in a multimillion dollar arena project. He did some great things with Host Communications etc. But really most of what he has been involved in should have been decided by the taxpayers of the Louisville community and not forced down the throats of the community for the next 30 years. I hope that Louisville taxpayers enjoy this area because it will take them 30 years to pay it off and it will be falling apart by then. I would love someone to tell me how Indianapolis built four new sports venues in the last 34 years yet only one has been built in Louisville. Lets see, The Old Market Street Arena, Conseco Fieldhouse, RCA Dome, Lucas Oil Stadium and Victory Field. We only have Slugger Field and Louisville Arena to show for it. Not a good track record.

    Plus they built it in the worst spot downtown. Right where everything bunches up for traffic. Maybe if they imploded the Humana building then they could find parking for the Arena. Otherwise, its going to be a major league cluster#### to get out of there on game days or nights. Its not well planned. They would have did better at the Water Co site or even somewhere between I 65 and business district

  • 12 Cary B. Willis // Jul 14, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    You can grouse about the location or whatever, but if it hadn’t been for Jim Host, I doubt this project would have ever happened. Louisville needs big thinkers (and doers), and Jim is one.

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