News and Tribune

Clark County

March 26, 2006

New Louisville arena is opportunity for Southern Indiana

Chuck Moore, owner of Jeffersonville’s Jimmy’s on the River restaurant, is ready to serve up some new patrons from a proposed arena across the river.

“It just adds to the pie,” Moore said. “It’ll be a great thing to have. We see it with concerts at the (Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center) and different places. We see it with conventions, the Farm Machinery Show.”

Moore isn’t alone. Economic observers say a proposed $381 million arena in downtown Louisville could significantly boost sales at Southern Indiana restaurants, bars and hotels.

“I can see a great deal of benefit to Southern Indiana, particularly when we have huge events,” said Jim Host, chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority. “This is a project that will dramatically enhance economic development in Louisville and Southern Indiana.”

Last September, the Louisville Arena Task Force recommended to Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher that a 22,000- to 24,000-seat arena be built nestled at the foot of the Clark Memorial Bridge, immediately south of the Ohio River, and a short distance from Clarksville and Jeffersonville across the bridge’s walkway.

The venue would replace Freedom Hall as the home to University of Louisville men’s and women’s basketball, even though officials at the school said early in the process that they would prefer an on-campus arena near Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium.

U of L athletics is merely part of the equation for the arena, which hopes to host about 115 events annually, following a projected 2010 opening, Host said.

Other events could include conventions, concerts, ice shows, family shows and, perhaps, even minor league hockey. Host said the arena’s planners have already been in contact with the NCAA, with the hope of constructing a facility in which the organization will be willing to host championships for sports such as volleyball, gymnastics, wrestling and hockey. It could also serve as a regional finals site for men’s and women’s basketball.

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