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Council Moves To Let Mayor Negotiate Yum Center Payment

A Louisville Metro Council committee is giving Mayor Greg Fischer the authority to negotiate a new agreement with the body that manages the KFC Yum Center.

A resolution granting Fischer that authority was unanimously approved by the council's budget committee in a special meeting Friday afternoon. It passed with no discussion.

The ordinance, which still needs full council approval, is similar to one discussed by the council during recent weeks. This version affords the city more flexibility in the negotiation process.

Under the resolution, Fischer can negotiate with the Arena Authority, as well as officials from the University of Louisville and state government, to rework the city's pay structure to the Arena Authority.

At present, the city can pay more than $10 million a year toward arena debt.

The resolution gives Fischer the option to lobby for a payment less than the maximum, which would have been required under the ordinance. But the negotiation process also hinges on U of L agreeing to contribute more money to toward the outstanding debt, and on state officials agreeing to extend a tax increment financing agreement for another decade, per the ordinance.

All this comes amid the Arena Authority's effort to refinance the debt on the KFC Yum Center. The entity, which is made up of members appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin, is not expected to be able to make its annual bond payments in coming years, as the debt is expected to increase, according to a report from WDRB.

A restructured deal between Louisville Metro government, U of L and state government could help the Arena Authority make those payments.

Scott Cox, the chair of the authority, said the resolution would be helpful to the refinancing plan, according to WDRB.

Discussions about the plan leading up to Friday's vote spilled over earlier this week, when U of L athletic director Tom Jurich told a radio host the university should abandon the downtown arena.

"I don't think we're wanted down there," he said.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.