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Media executives revealed as chairs of anti-NBA group

by Joe Arnold


Posted on November 27, 2012 at 8:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 27 at 8:16 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- The co-chairs of Home Court Advantage, a group aimed at discouraging Louisville from pursuing an NBA team to share the KFC Yum! Center with the University of Louisville, have revealed their involvement in a letter to business leaders.

Keith Hall, a former Insight Communications executive, and George Demaree, the General Sales Manager of Main Line Broadcasting, tout their media experience in the letter, saying, "our own personal pocketbooks have often been dependent on good investment decisions regarding athletics of all kinds on all levels."

Attached to the letter is a study commissioned by the group, revealed by WHAS11 earlier this month, which concludes that the costs associated with attracting and retaining a National Basketball Association franchise for Louisville outweigh the benefits. 

Hall is a former member of the University of Louisville Board of Overseers.  A U of L spokesman has said that the university was not involved in the study and, to his knowledge, had not requested it.

"Our initiative, Home Court Advantage, strives to educate members of our community about the detrimental effects an NBA team would have on our city and its local universities," the letter reads.

Mayor Greg Fischer has dismissed the study, conducted by Cambridge Economic Research, as biased.  Fischer said he encouraged Greater Louisville Inc to commission its own study.

Hall and Demaree criticize Fischer's efforts to ready the city for an NBA team if the opportunity arises, citing a meeting attended by Fischer and NBA proponents that did not include representation from the University of Louisville, the KFC Yum! Center's anchor tenant.

"As a community, are we comfortable in alienating our city’s public university at the expense of 'getting prepared?'" the letter asks.  "Are we OK with spending taxpayer dollars to finance preparations for an NBA team that is not guaranteed to arrive or stay in our city?"

A spokesman for Fischer, however, told WHAS11 that U of L Athletic Director Tom Jurich advised Fischer to contact him about the NBA conversation only after the city had identified a team.

Fischer has repeatedly said that any deal for an NBA team would have to include and be a "win" for U of L athletics.  The mayor has suggested that an NBA team offers a solution for the struggling finances of the downtown arena and the businesses surrounding the arena whose tax revenue helps pay off the arena's construction debt.

The co-chairs say that management changes at the KFC Yum! Center are showing good results.

"We think giving them the running room to continue their momentum makes more sense than throwing them a curveball at this crucial time," the letter states.

Hall and Demaree also claim that an NBA team would sabotage other events booked at the KFC Yum! Center, effectively removing U of L's Womens’ Basketball Team and Women's volleyball program.  The letter also claims that the NBA's demand for arena dates would disqualify the KFC Yum! Center for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament NCAA Volleyball Final Four.

Home Court Advantage plans meetings with business leaders to share the study's findings and relay concerns about the NBA's effect on the University of Louisville.

"Our community needs to be aware that renegotiating a contract in hopes of obtaining a seat at the NBA bargaining table is not a fruitful exercise," the letter concludes.