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Milestone Marked On New Arena Construction

By Rick HowlettConstruction of Louisville's new downtown arena reached a turning point Monday with a topping off ceremony at the facility.              A large beam signed by construction workers, government officials and University of Louisville leaders was hoisted to the top of the arena, signifying the final piece of structural steel to be put into place.Among the speakers was Governor Steve Beshear, who said the facility has already begun to generate new business ahead of its opening. "Two major conventions, expected to create $10 million in local spending and bring 30,000 people to Louisville, have already been landed. In addition, the arena will be the site of the NCAA Division I national women's volleyball championship," Beshear said.The arena is scheduled to open November 1, five years after a task force was appointed by then-GovernorErnie Fletcher to get the project moving. Mayor Jerry Abramson says there were some at the time who doubted that enough money or political will could be generated to make it a reality."Some people criticized our plan to put the arena downtown on the site of a power plant. It would cost too much they said, it was too dangerous to relocate the power lines. We proved them wrong and showed that it was possible in Louisville, Kentucky," Abramson said.The arena's primary tenants will be the University of Louisville basketball teams.            

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.