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Mark Coomes: The pink elephant in the NBA-to-Louisville debate is the white elephant downtown

by Mark Coomes

The pink elephant in our room is the white elephant downtown.

We need to take off the blindfolds and the rose-colored glasses.

This is no time for backbiting or catfighting. We need to talk about this like adults.

Only 22,000 of us make regular use of the joint, but the KFC Yum! Center is a source of near-unanimous civic pride. It’s a first-class edifice in a second-rung town, and it implies a community that aims to do some climbing – provided our pride and joy doesn’t weigh us down.

The $348 million Yum! Center is losing money. As it was in the beginning, is now … and ever shall be?

We don’t have a full-blown albino on our hands just yet, but relentless red ink is bleaching the costly pachyderm’s skin.

We can’t afford to let that happen.

The numbers are complicated; we’ll delve into them another day. For now, just know Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government must soon cough up $9.8 million to help the arena make its mortgage for 2012.

That’s just the beginning. If the arena doesn’t start generating more revenue, the city will be billed $9.8 million each and every year until 2018 – at which point the tab could soar to $20 million.

This is not a wealthy city. It can’t afford to subsidize a playpen.

The vast majority of Jefferson County’s 740,000 citizens have no means or desire to see a pop music concert or a University of Louisville game. It’s not right to make them pay in perpetuity for an edifice that doesn’t make them any safer, any smarter or any healthier.

So what are we going to do?

Are we going to let a major asset become a liability? Or are we going to push our city’s leaders to make the Yum! Center financially viable?

Most folks are glad that the Yum! Center was built. It’s a triumph of can-do spirit in what’s too often a can’t-do town. But our stately pleasure-dome vowed to be self-supporting. It’s barely been open two years, and it’s on the dole already.

The worry is that it will stay there. That the civic sow will be forced to suckle another underachieving offspring. And that the offspring won’t try its level best to get off the teat.

There’s no easy way to wean this little piggy. Some say luring an NBA team is the answer. Some say it’s not.

An article published Tuesday on Forbes magazine’s website, “Why Louisville Should Top the List for an NBA Team,” looked at both sides of the issue but argued in favor of returning pro basketball to its old Kentucky home. Darren Heitner, a professor of sports agency management at Indiana University, says Louisville is the best place for an NBA team to relocate.

It’s an opinion shared by Daniel Rascher, a California economics professor who co-authored a 2004 study that identified the most viable American markets for NBA expansion.

The dissenting view comes from an outfit called BoxcarPR, whose funding is unclear but whose opinion isn’t. It recently issued a Cambridge Economic Research study that says Louisville-area residents lack the means to support an NBA team. What’s more, the report says, an NBA team would cost the city far more money than it would bring.

With Seattle, Kansas City, Virginia Beach, Va., and other cities eager to recruit an NBA team, any owner willing to relocate will have plenty of leverage with which to demand tax breaks, favorable lease terms and other concessions.

Some say the Yum! Center already gave away the farm in order to land U of L as an anchor tenant. How much farm is there left to give away?

And what concessions might the Cardinals demand for sharing their new nest? Should they risk sharing it at all? The NBA is no Tweety Bird; it’s a pterodactyl.

There are no easy answers. And there will be no easy negotiations if an NBA team ever gets serious about moving here. But the NBA option deserves a long, hard look – with fresh eyes and open minds.

The process starts with admitting that a Yum! Center where U of L is the only consistent tenant is probably doomed to fail.

NCAA rules limit the number of games a basketball team can play. There simply aren’t many more dates that U of L can book.

Team Jurich is pulling its weight, but it can’t tow the entire project into the black. It really shouldn’t have to. But the Yum! Center is a conundrum. It’s not a U of L arena, but it’s patronized almost exclusively by U of L fans.

Before we force the entire community foot the bill for the Yum! Center, let’s acknowledge that half the community has little reason to ever darken its doors.

Let’s acknowledge that this is a serious (and potentially insurmountable) problem.

At least half of all sports fans in the Louisville MSA are University of Kentucky loyalists. Unless those folks are goo-goo for Lady Gaga or bonkers for The Boss, the Yum! Center has little chance of luring them in the door.

That goes for IU fans too.

Common sense and absent dollars say the Yum! Center has a seriously flawed business model. It not only ignores thousands of potential customers in its own backyard, but millions who live elsewhere in this state and across the river.

Since the Yum! Center is primarily a basketball arena – and since the Cats and Hoosiers already have arenas of their own – the Yum! Center seems unlikely to succeed without offering a basketball product that appeals to more than U of L fans.

That product is spelled N-B-A.

Well, isn’t it?

What are the other options? Speak now or forever hold your peace. Because the tipping point is upon us.

The first bill for $9.8 million comes due in a few months. More seem sure to follow.

The Yum! Center is slowly sinking in red ink. Taxpayers who didn’t vote to build the place – and who, in many cases, have no compelling reason to go there – face a bill that could rocket north of $300 million.

That’s real money.

Even a Dumbo can see that.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.martin.566790 Robert Martin

    If the Staples Center can be the home of 4 pro teams (Lakers, Clippers, Sparks, Kings) plus the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League and the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA D-League until they were discontinued and also up to 250 additional events a year, surely the Yum Center can accomodate U of L Sports, a Pro Basketball team, Hockey team and many more events during the year. Visitors come from Cincy, Indy, Chicago, and all throughout Kentucky plus the Conventioneers that visits downtown and party at 4th street Live every weekend. All the new activity at the Yum Center would just enhance their experience in Louisville.
    Just get it Done!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.martin.566790 Robert Martin

    If the Staples Center can be the home of 4 pro teams (Lakers, Clippers, Sparks, Kings) plus the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League and the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA D-League until they were discontinued and also up to 250 additional events a year, surely the Yum Center can accomodate U of L Sports, a Pro Basketball team, Hockey team and many more events during the year. Visitors come from Cincy, Indy, Chicago, and all throughout Kentucky plus the Conventioneers that visits downtown and party at 4th street Live every weekend. All the new activity at the Yum Center would just enhance their experience in Louisville.
    Just get it Done!!!

  • Cruke Duise

    Keep perpetuating the myth that half of Jefferson County pulls for UK (which, is really why Mr. Coomes has started championing this cause, right?) It’s not. UK can’t even sell out Freedom Hall when playing its annual “me too” game in Jefferson County. Their last attempt was against Notre Dame, so spare me the “weak opponent” argument. If you are counting on the additional 15,000 UK fans that apparently can 1) afford a ticket and/or 2) have the time to squeeze in a game, then the NBA is doomed. But I digress.

    I have no problem with an NBA team in Louisville. The attitude that we are big enough to support pro-sports is refreshing. I’m not sure, though, that the NBA is going to solve the YUM! Center debt problem. I think it would be difficult for you to find a city Louisville’s size with a pro-sports team that actually pays rent on the facility. If there are no rent payments, it hasn’t been adequately explained how an NBA team solves the problem, other than the potential soft benefit of filling the TIF district more nights.

    The fact is, most cities Louisville’s size with an NBA team have sold their civic souls to have one. New Orleans has to guarantee a certain attendance – and must make up the difference if it is not reached. The Memphis Grizzlies have scheduling control over not only the FedEx Forum, but all other arenas in the city. Most of the small market teams are more or less leaches on the local and state government who justify that cost as marketing.

    So if Louisville can land an NBA team that fixes the problem, then let’s do it. But if the NBA becomes another leach, then it is not needed here.

  • Cruke Duise

    Keep perpetuating the myth that half of Jefferson County pulls for UK (which, is really why Mr. Coomes has started championing this cause, right?) It’s not. UK can’t even sell out Freedom Hall when playing its annual “me too” game in Jefferson County. Their last attempt was against Notre Dame, so spare me the “weak opponent” argument. If you are counting on the additional 15,000 UK fans that apparently can 1) afford a ticket and/or 2) have the time to squeeze in a game, then the NBA is doomed. But I digress.

    I have no problem with an NBA team in Louisville. The attitude that we are big enough to support pro-sports is refreshing. I’m not sure, though, that the NBA is going to solve the YUM! Center debt problem. I think it would be difficult for you to find a city Louisville’s size with a pro-sports team that actually pays rent on the facility. If there are no rent payments, it hasn’t been adequately explained how an NBA team solves the problem, other than the potential soft benefit of filling the TIF district more nights.

    The fact is, most cities Louisville’s size with an NBA team have sold their civic souls to have one. New Orleans has to guarantee a certain attendance – and must make up the difference if it is not reached. The Memphis Grizzlies have scheduling control over not only the FedEx Forum, but all other arenas in the city. Most of the small market teams are more or less leaches on the local and state government who justify that cost as marketing.

    So if Louisville can land an NBA team that fixes the problem, then let’s do it. But if the NBA becomes another leach, then it is not needed here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.martin.566790 Robert Martin

    Agreed Cruke

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.martin.566790 Robert Martin

    Agreed Cruke

  • Pingback: Forbes reporter Darren Heitner: ‘Why Louisville should top the list for an NBA franchise’ » Insider Louisville

  • http://twitter.com/mark_coomes Mark Coomes

    Why did I start “championing this cause” anyway? Because I’m a big UK fan or a big U of L fan? I wish people would make up their minds. I get really confused about which team I’m supposedly biased for.

  • Mark Coomes

    Why did I start “championing this cause” anyway? Because I’m a big UK fan or a big U of L fan? I wish people would make up their minds. I get really confused about which team I’m supposedly biased for.

  • http://twitter.com/mark_coomes Mark Coomes

    What I actually wrote is that half the folks in the Louisville MSA are UK fans. The MSA includes southern Indiana and 8 Kentucky counties around Jefferson.

  • Mark Coomes

    What I actually wrote is that half the folks in the Louisville MSA are UK fans. The MSA includes southern Indiana and 8 Kentucky counties around Jefferson.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Young/100000738921568 Michael Young

    Well you may not be biased toward one team or the other but what is certain is that you have incredibly thin skin for a alleged journalist. Pissing contests with those who leave comments to your article is a poor way to establish your journalistic integrity and an even poorer way to convince us that you are a mature professional.

  • skwerl

    Well you may not be biased toward one team or the other but what is certain is that you have incredibly thin skin for a alleged journalist. Pissing contests with those who leave comments to your article is a poor way to establish your journalistic integrity and an even poorer way to convince us that you are a mature professional.

  • http://twitter.com/mark_coomes Mark Coomes

    I see. So whether a pseudonymous writer’s accusation is accurate — or even grammatically clear — is beside the point. Interesting.

    Ever notice that people who cry “bias” always have a clear and unapologetic bias themselves? If you’re not flattering their team, you are by definition biased. It’s a closed loop of self-fulfilling, self-referential pretzel logic.

  • Mark Coomes

    I see. So whether a pseudonymous writer’s accusation is accurate — or even grammatically clear — is beside the point. Interesting.

    Ever notice that people who cry “bias” always have a clear and unapologetic bias themselves? If you’re not flattering their team, you are by definition biased. It’s a closed loop of self-fulfilling, self-referential pretzel logic.

  • http://twitter.com/ValleyReport Col. Brian Tucker

    This is an excellent point. The Staples Center holds multiple events on the same day, a feat unimaginable in the Yum Center.

  • http://twitter.com/ValleyReport Col. Brian Tucker

    This is an excellent point. The Staples Center holds multiple events on the same day, a feat unimaginable in the Yum Center.

  • Cruke Duise

    Hey, I stated the question of bias because it wreaks of it. If UK has just as many fans in the MSA, then they 1) can’t afford tickets and/or 2) don’t have time to attend games because they have proven, time and again, they cannot sell out Freedom Hall. Thus, the argument for this small segment as needing a team is not applicable, but one that many NBA proponents hang onto. I also find a strong correlation between NBA proponents and UK fans in Louisville. They feel the YUM! Center provides them no benefit despite being a tax-payer funded facility. Funny, though, I don’t hear any of them decrying UK’s deal with the city of Lexington and Rupp Arena.

    My original point stands, though. Even J. Bruce can’t provide the answer as to how an NBA team will bring the YUM! Center into the black if the NBA team pays no rent. The benefit is always more nebulous. Like, we can’t be a 21 century player if we don’t have a pro team ? What?!?! Sorry, Austin, Texas, your college sports have doomed you. And, don’t you know, Portland, OR only became Portland, OR because of an NBA team. I’m sorry, I find that to be a terrible argument.

    I don’t think an NBA would harm UofL beyond recognition – especially now with its membership in the ACC. But I’m really not that anxious to have a pro team hold us hostage over the T & C’s of a lease agreement. I just don’t see the overwhelming benefit.

  • Cruke Duise

    Hey, I stated the question of bias because it wreaks of it. If UK has just as many fans in the MSA, then they 1) can’t afford tickets and/or 2) don’t have time to attend games because they have proven, time and again, they cannot sell out Freedom Hall. Thus, the argument for this small segment as needing a team is not applicable, but one that many NBA proponents hang onto. I also find a strong correlation between NBA proponents and UK fans in Louisville. They feel the YUM! Center provides them no benefit despite being a tax-payer funded facility. Funny, though, I don’t hear any of them decrying UK’s deal with the city of Lexington and Rupp Arena.

    My original point stands, though. Even J. Bruce can’t provide the answer as to how an NBA team will bring the YUM! Center into the black if the NBA team pays no rent. The benefit is always more nebulous. Like, we can’t be a 21 century player if we don’t have a pro team ? What?!?! Sorry, Austin, Texas, your college sports have doomed you. And, don’t you know, Portland, OR only became Portland, OR because of an NBA team. I’m sorry, I find that to be a terrible argument.

    I don’t think an NBA would harm UofL beyond recognition – especially now with its membership in the ACC. But I’m really not that anxious to have a pro team hold us hostage over the T & C’s of a lease agreement. I just don’t see the overwhelming benefit.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WSYFSZ4RHOMWA463W5GGQHX5SE M

    But what is the factual basis for your assertion? You don’t say in the story, which leads me to believe you are relying on the same lazy “common knowledge” that folks in the state have used to perpetuate this myth for years.

    The best source I know to measure the fan support for the respective teams is the The C-J’s Bluegrass State polls. Those have consistently shown that the number is more like a third of sports fans in the metro area are UK fans. This is especially true if you include Southern Indiana, where support for Cards basketball is strong.

    If you have factual evidence to the contrary I’m all ears.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WSYFSZ4RHOMWA463W5GGQHX5SE M

    But what is the factual basis for your assertion? You don’t say in the story, which leads me to believe you are relying on the same lazy “common knowledge” that folks in the state have used to perpetuate this myth for years.

    The best source I know to measure the fan support for the respective teams is the The C-J’s Bluegrass State polls. Those have consistently shown that the number is more like a third of sports fans in the metro area are UK fans. This is especially true if you include Southern Indiana, where support for Cards basketball is strong.

    If you have factual evidence to the contrary I’m all ears.

  • http://twitter.com/mark_coomes Mark Coomes

    I never said that the NBA is a silver bullet. I said, Show me a better option.

    Not sure one exists. It’s a basketball arena. It needs more basketball games. A lot more. And it needs a basketball product with broader appeal.

    The primary benefit of an NBA team is not as a rent-paying the tenant. It’s a means of compelling people to eat, drink and be merry downtown. To spend money in the tax district designated to fund the arena. An extra 45 dates per year will go long way toward making the shortfall of TIF revenue we’ve seen so far.

    Got anything else that will bring the arena an extra 45 events a year? No? Well, then, we’d better give this NBA option a long, hard look.

    It’s either that or just accept that taxpayers are gonna have to pay off the arena. Which wasn’t supposed to be the case.

  • Mark Coomes

    I never said that the NBA is a silver bullet. I said, Show me a better option.

    Not sure one exists. It’s a basketball arena. It needs more basketball games. A lot more. And it needs a basketball product with broader appeal.

    The primary benefit of an NBA team is not as a rent-paying tenant. It’s as a means of compelling people to eat, drink and be merry downtown. To spend money in the tax district designated to fund the arena. An extra 45 dates per year will go long way toward making up the shortfall of TIF revenue we’ve seen so far.

    Got anything else that will bring the arena an extra 45 events a year? No? Well, then, we’d better give this NBA option a long, hard look.

    It’s either that or just accept that taxpayers are gonna have to pay off the arena. Which wasn’t supposed to be the case.

  • http://twitter.com/mark_coomes Mark Coomes

    2005 Courier-Journal survey found that Jefferson Co. residents favored U of L to UK by 57% to 33%. Outside of Jefferson Co., UK = 75%; U of L = 8%.

  • Mark Coomes

    2005 Courier-Journal survey found that Jefferson Co. residents favored U of L to UK by 57% to 33%. Outside of Jefferson Co., UK = 75%; U of L = 8%.

  • http://www.facebook.com/albrecht.stahmer Albrecht Stahmer

    Filling the TIF district is not a soft benefit. It is the primary source or revenue to pay down the bonds.

  • http://www.facebook.com/albrecht.stahmer Albrecht Stahmer

    Filling the TIF district is not a soft benefit. It is the primary source or revenue to pay down the bonds.

  • http://www.facebook.com/albrecht.stahmer Albrecht Stahmer

    No doubt, Austin is a fantastic city. But is Portland, or any other city with a professional sports franchise, a lesser city because of it? What you find a terrible argument, others find a compelling one, i.e. the intangible benefits of creating social fabric. Rest assured, I’d rather Louisville become an educational center of excellence a la Austin or Boston, but I don’t see that happening. An NBA team playing at the KFC Yum! Center would help bring the arena into the black by driving more people into the TIF district, which is only producing 34-40% of projections with the city making up the difference. As this difference grows above $9.8 million, the state will have to make it up. Seems pretty cut and dried to me. Will an NBA make Louisville a perfect place to live? Hell, no. But it will help brand the city and reduce the KFC Yum! Center losses, both pretty tangible benefits in my mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/albrecht.stahmer Albrecht Stahmer

    No doubt, Austin is a fantastic city. But is Portland, or any other city with a professional sports franchise, a lesser city because of it? What you find a terrible argument, others find a compelling one, i.e. the intangible benefits of creating social fabric. Rest assured, I’d rather Louisville become an educational center of excellence a la Austin or Boston, but I don’t see that happening. An NBA team playing at the KFC Yum! Center would help bring the arena into the black by driving more people into the TIF district, which is only producing 34-40% of projections with the city making up the difference. As this difference grows above $9.8 million, the state will have to make it up. Seems pretty cut and dried to me. Will an NBA make Louisville a perfect place to live? Hell, no. But it will help brand the city and reduce the KFC Yum! Center losses, both pretty tangible benefits in my mind.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WSYFSZ4RHOMWA463W5GGQHX5SE M

    “Outside of Jefferson Co.” includes lots and lots of counties (112, to be exact) that are not included in the Louisville MSA and does not include Southern Indiana at all. I think it’s safe to assume, for example, that there are more Cards fans in Oldham County than in Lincoln.

    It appears you don’t really have the breakdown for Cards and Cats fans in the MSA and were just speculating as to what it might be. That’s fine but you should just say so.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WSYFSZ4RHOMWA463W5GGQHX5SE M

    “Outside of Jefferson Co.” includes lots and lots of counties (112, to be exact) that are not included in the Louisville MSA and does not include Southern Indiana at all. I think it’s safe to assume, for example, that there are more Cards fans in Oldham County than in Lincoln.

    It appears you don’t really have the breakdown for Cards and Cats fans in the MSA and were just speculating as to what it might be. That’s fine but you should just say so.

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  • http://twitter.com/mark_coomes Mark Coomes

    Come on, M. You’re clearly a smart guy. Don’t miss the forest for the trees.

    Precise percentages aren’t the point. The point is that the Yum! Center, by failing to offer a non-U of L basketball product, is ignoring hundreds of thousands of potential customers right in its own backyard. Potential customers it desperately needs

    I don’t have the exact breakdown for the MSA proper. But I’ve lived here most of life — in Jefferson, Oldham and Spencer — and I stand by saying that Cat fans comprise half of the MSA. If it’s 57-33 for U of L in Jeff. Co., its AT LEAST 57-33 for UK in Henry, Trimble, Oldham, Bullitt, Spencer, Shelby, Nelson and Meade.

    I’m sure the CJ broke it down by county, so if this becomes a topic of meaningful contention, I’ll see if I can get a copy of their survey. I’m certain the data will bear me out. Though, really, it’s beside the point.

  • Mark Coomes

    Come on, M. You’re clearly a smart guy. Don’t miss the forest for the trees.

    Precise percentages aren’t the point. The point is that the Yum! Center, by failing to offer a non-U of L basketball product, is ignoring hundreds of thousands of potential customers right in its own backyard. Potential customers it desperately needs

    I don’t have the exact breakdown for the MSA proper. But I’ve lived here most of life — in Jefferson, Oldham and Spencer — and I stand by saying that Cat fans comprise half of the MSA. If it’s 57-33 for U of L in Jeff. Co., its AT LEAST 57-33 for UK in Henry, Trimble, Oldham, Bullitt, Spencer, Shelby, Nelson and Meade.

    I’m sure the CJ broke it down by county, so if this becomes a topic of meaningful contention, I’ll see if I can get a copy of their survey. I’m certain the data will bear me out. Though, really, it’s beside the point.

  • Stunoland

    A track based and downtown true casino with pro-sports wagering casino/retail facility would attract large conventions, more concerts, and special events that use the arena (boxing matches and large conventions for example) and spur economic development that solves the arena TIF district shortfalls. Additionally Louisville would trap large amounts of non-local tax dollars which would help alleviate the State/city tax/spend imbalance. This would enable Louisville to compete on a level playing field with its peer cities. Additionally Louisville could pull off specific revenue streams from the gambling taxes that would enable the city to develop 21st century amenities and infrastructure.

  • Stunoland

    A track based and downtown true casino with pro-sports wagering casino/retail facility would attract large conventions, more concerts, and special events that use the arena (boxing matches and large conventions for example) and spur economic development that solves the arena TIF district shortfalls. Additionally Louisville would trap large amounts of non-local tax dollars which would help alleviate the State/city tax/spend imbalance. This would enable Louisville to compete on a level playing field with its peer cities. Additionally Louisville could pull off specific revenue streams from the gambling taxes that would enable the city to develop 21st century amenities and infrastructure.

  • Stunoland

    A downtown casino/retail center with pro-sports wagering would pull many people from the region and beyond.

  • Stunoland

    A downtown casino/retail center with pro-sports wagering would pull many people from the region and beyond.

  • Stunoland

    Another option is having a Mayor that understands Louisville’s potential as the value arts and entertainment capitol of America and lobbies aggressively for local-option gaming laws. What we need is a track based and downtown true casino/retail center that extends professional sports wagering to competitors on 2 legs. The economic impact of pro-sports wagering would far surpass the impact of the long-shot strategy of attracting a NBA team. In fact, it is the lack of a major pro-sports that would result in a sustainable competitive advantage for Louisville. The wagering would be restricted to professional sports which should not effect the attraction of NCAA events. But again, the year round attraction of conventions and tourists would far surpass any potential loss of NCAA events. One could foresee a scenario where the presence of a large pro-sports wagering casino/retail facility would increase TIF district revenues year round, attract large conventions, more concerts, and special events that use the arena (boxing matches and large conventions for example) and spur economic development that solves the arena TIF district shortfall. Even more important is the infusion of non-local tax dollars that improve the crippling city/State tax imbalance (In 2011 Louisville paid $2.4 billion to Frankfort and received $1.2 billion, probably the worst ratio in the country). The trade-offs clearly favor adopting the pro-sports wagering casino strategy over the status quo.

  • Stunoland

    Another option is having a Mayor that understands Louisville’s potential as the value arts and entertainment capitol of America and lobbies aggressively for local-option gaming laws. What we need is a track based and downtown true casino/retail center that extends professional sports wagering to competitors on 2 legs. The economic impact of pro-sports wagering would far surpass the impact of the long-shot strategy of attracting a NBA team. In fact, it is the lack of a major pro-sports that would result in a sustainable competitive advantage for Louisville. The wagering would be restricted to professional sports which should not effect the attraction of NCAA events. But again, the year round attraction of conventions and tourists would far surpass any potential loss of NCAA events. One could foresee a scenario where the presence of a large pro-sports wagering casino/retail facility would increase TIF district revenues year round, attract large conventions, more concerts, and special events that use the arena (boxing matches and large conventions for example) and spur economic development that solves the arena TIF district shortfall. Even more important is the infusion of non-local tax dollars that improve the crippling city/State tax imbalance (In 2011 Louisville paid $2.4 billion to Frankfort and received $1.2 billion, probably the worst ratio in the country). The trade-offs clearly favor adopting the pro-sports wagering casino strategy over the status quo.