The city of Louisville, Kentucky jumped to the forefront of college basketball arenas when they opened up the KFC Yum! Center in October of 2010. With over 22,000 seats inside the arena, the KFC Yum! Center is the fifth largest college basketball facility in terms of seating capacity.
What makes the home of the University of Louisville Cardinals men’s and women’s basketball team one of the best facilities in the nation is the wide variety of amenities that can be found in all areas of the facility. The long list of amenities include: 2,084 club seats, 72 luxury suites, four club lounges, four party suites, four meeting rooms, five auxiliary locker rooms, 5-star dressing rooms, 27 permanent concession stands (with 32 portable temporary stands), a 2,500 square foot Cardinal Authentic team store, a practice court, and a 760-car underground parking garage. Because of these premier amenities, the KFC Yum! Center has been selected by the NCAA to be a host site for the first two rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in 2012.
One amenity that makes the KFC Yum Center! unique is the northern side of its lower level. In this area, guests can enjoy an 8,750 square foot sports bar, three concession stands that consist of Yum brands KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, and a public food court area that gives fans a breath-taking view of the Ohio River.
The KFC Yum! Center is surrounded by 4,200 hotel rooms as well as many attractions in Downtown Louisville such as 4th Street Live which can be reached directly from the KFC Yum! Center with Louisville’s skywalk system. If 4th Street Live isn’t enough excitement, fans can take in the Ohio River at Louisville’s many riverfront parks, visit Louisville Slugger Field which is home to the AAA Louisville Bats, or take in a mid-sized event at legendary Freedom Hall- the former home to Louisville Cardinals basketball games.
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There is something for everyone at the KFC Yum! Center concession stands. Fans can choose the regular concession stand items such as burgers, hot dogs, and popcorn, or they can choose to go to one of Yum's food court stands and choose from KFC, Taco Bell, or Pizza Hut items. If that’s not enough, fans also have many beverage items to choose from such as water, Pepsi, various beer brands, or one of Kentucky’s famous whiskey makers. They can then enjoy a wide variety of dessert items such as cookies, brownies, ice cream in a waffle cone, or ice cream in a cake cone.
Another great thing about the food and beverage at the KFC Yum! Center is the amount of locations that serve these items. There are over 59 concession stands located throughout the building on game days. Therefore, the lines are small and quick at each stand even though U of L sells out most of their games. I highly recommend purchasing at least one unique food and beverage item from the KFC Yum! Center concession stands.
When it comes to the atmosphere at the KFC Yum! Center, all I can say is WOW. If you haven’t been to a Louisville Cardinals game yet, you haven’t seen what makes college basketball one of the greatest live sporting events in all of the land.
I must say, listening to Coach Rick Pitino’s speech on the jumbo screen before tipoff sent chills down my spine. Coach Pitino’s fiery speech to his players is the perfect video to show to any college basketball crowd to get them pumped up before any game. I sure hope they keep this for many years to come.
Another thing that makes the atmosphere great at the KFC Yum! Center is the placement of overhead speakers. No matter what part of the arena you are in, you will always feel like you are in the game yourself. U of L also does a great job reinforcing this mindset by surrounding you with Louisville Cardinals logos, stickers, banners, flags, and images on every square foot of the KFC Yum! Center.
If you aren’t familiar with the historic and traditional Louisville Cardinals basketball program (or even if you are), make sure you visit the "Louisville Hall of Honor" located in the atrium and entrance to the arena. Seeing the championship trophies, hearing videos from Louisville Cardinal legends, and reading the great quotes by Coach Rick Pitino will tell you all you need to know about Louisville Cardinals basketball.
The neighborhood is good right now, but it will be great in future years. The preservation of lofts in the historic Whiskey Row across from the arena, the development of the buildings in the Iron Quarter, and the always lively 4th Street Live have given the surrounding neighborhood a lot of momentum. I chose to eat at the Old Spaghetti Factory which is located just a few blocks south of the KFC Yum! Center. If you go, you better make reservations as this restaurant fills up quickly with Cardinal fans who want to eat spaghetti inside an old cable car.
The city of Louisville has also done a wonderful job of keeping their riverfront clean, green, and unique. If you walk down the riverfront between the KFC Yum! Center and Louisville Slugger Field, you will see bicycle rentals, newly constructed plazas, and areas that are easy to walk around in.
One thing I would like to see Louisville do is maintain their aggressiveness with their downtown. I would like to see the city make another run at building a complex like the Museum Plaza building that was proposed, but came up a little short with financing. I believe that the Museum Plaza Project has whetted the appetites of the local Louisville residents to construct something that will bring national and even international attention to the neighborhood around the KFC Yum! Center.
I would also like to see the city go back to their plan of renovating historic Louisville Gardens and developing the land around it. Louisville Gardens has a lot of history in it and will be a great compliment to the KFC Yum! Center once it is finally revitalized.
Louisville is off to a great start with the neighborhood around the KFC Yum! Center and there are plenty of reasons to visit the area, but there is still work to be done in order to realize Downtown Louisville’s astronomical potential.
The fan support for Louisville Basketball is on par with the amount of money the U of L Athletic Department has invested in the program with the new KFC Yum! Center. They are loud, they are loyal, and they are dedicated to doing their part to bring home a NCAA National Championship to Louisville, Kentucky.
I was impressed with the wide array of knowledge that even the average fans have at the KFC Yum! Center. I talked to many people in many areas of the arena, and just about all of them knew the entire history of Louisville Basketball. They knew the ins-and-outs of the current team, and they knew anything and everything about the game of basketball.
The only thing I would like to see improved with the fans at the KFC Yum! Center is the student section. I felt like the students did a great job of participating in the game with their signs, outfits, and cheering so I would like to see the section expanded a little closer to the court instead of farther up the end zone section.
Accessing the KFC Yum! Center is the only real complaint I have with going to a game there. If you aren’t familiar with Louisville’s street grid, it can be very confusing and hard to navigate as there are few exits off of I-64 and I-65 that take fans straight to the arena. In fact, some local residents believe that I-64 should be removed entirely which may not be a bad idea.
Parking distance is also a problem if you don’t like walking. Yes, there is an underground parking garage but it is for season ticket holders. All other parking lots around the arena range from $10 to $15 to park. Almost all of the free street parking is gobbled up hours before tip-off.
Moving forward, I would like to see the city invest in light rail and street cars around the KFC Yum! Center so that fans who do not like to fight traffic can get to the game hassle free. This would also allow for patrons of the KFC Yum! Center an easy way to access places like 4th Street Live without having to deal with moving their car around Downtown Louisville.
I don’t think there is any question that the KFC Yum! Center is the best college basketball arena in the country. It has all of the team spirit and arena amenities a fan could ask for. It has inspired other teams to upgrade their own basketball arenas, and it has made their arch-rival UK jealous, envious, and determined to catch back up to U of L by upgrading Rupp Arena.
Yes, some facilities have more history while others have more seats than the KFC Yum! Center, but none capture the pulse of their team like the KFC Yum! Center does with Louisville Cardinals Basketball. If you are looking to go to a college basketball game, you must go to the KFC Yum! Center. Prices for a U of L game are reasonable and I can’t name one person who has gone to a game at the KFC Yum! Center and regretted it. Three words describe my trip to the KFC Yum! Center- Simply The Best!
I also feel like the KFC Yum! Center is a great facility to house a NBA team one day. It’s been quite some time since the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA gave Louisville a professional basketball team to root for, and it’s about time the NBA brought them back. If or when that happens, Louisville will have one of the best arenas and fans in the NBA as well.
I give one point to the U of L ticket office for making my trip to the KFC Yum! Center a blast. The ticket office was friendly, prompt, and courteous to me which made my trip a great experience. I highly recommend purchasing a ticket to the KFC Yum! Center with the U of L ticket office as they have proven that they will do whatever it takes to make their customers satisfied.
I give one point to the city of Louisville for keeping historic Freedom Hall. This great venue means a lot to the people who have gone to basketball games and concerts there over the years. Before the city ever broke ground on the KFC Yum! Center, they made sure they put together a plan to keep Freedom Hall solvent. Today, this building hosts over 100 events so if you are in town for a game at the KFC Yum! Center, make sure you visit Freedom Hall as well. These two venues are a great compliment to each other.
I give one point for the KFC Yum! Center being downtown. At first, the city didn’t know if they were going to build downtown or out by the campus of the University of Louisville. Because of the KFC Yum! Center, Downtown Louisville is experiencing an enormous amount of growth which will bode well for the city’s future. Because of this decision, the city has already lured the NCAA Tournament first and second rounds to the KFC Yum! Center for 2012, and it is a likely host for future Tournament games.
One point for the history of the Louisville Cardinals basketball program which is on display throughout, and especially in the Hall of Honor. The Cardinals have made eight trips to the Final Four, and have won two National Championships (1980 and 1986), and it is always extra special to visit a program like that.
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