With the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals and the KFC Yum! Center’s financial woes becoming more and more public, the push for an NBA team to Louisville is picking up steam. One of people’s biggest fears about bringing an NBA team to Louisville is the drawback that the University of Louisville will feel financially. Well, Jack Shaker over at the Intelligent Evolution writes that U of L and the NBA can co-exist.
The University of Louisville basketball program is no doubt the main draw when it comes to sports in Louisville. In the latest NCAA attendance rankings it finished 3rd overall beating out such programs like UNC and Kansas with an average attendance of 21,503 a game.
Yet Louisville is a town that is starved for more options when it comes to spending more money on sports entertainment, especially basketball. That is why luring an NBA team to the city would be a great acquisition for its sports fans. However, there are those who argue that the city is too small to support both its flagship college program and a professional franchise. Since the NBA and NCAA seasons overlap, it is argued that one would likely take a hit in its attendance numbers since there are not enough fans that can afford to spend their money on tickets for both. This is simply not true.
Columbus, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville and Raleigh have had pro franchises for at least a decade and yet their college programs still draw numbers ranking them in the top 20 for NCAA attendance. Ohio St., Memphis, N.C. State, and Marquette all play in facilities that house around 18,000-20,000 while Vanderbilt plays in a facility that can only hold around 14,000. In other words, each of these programs except for N.C. State consistently manages to fill their arenas despite having to share a market with a pro team.
It should also be noted that Memphis, Marquette, and N.C. State all share an arena with an NBA or NHL team.