Host’s Arena Wake-up Call

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.