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Fair Board tells Workman to reinstate fired arena GM, Beshear cites concern about NCAA games

Fair Board tells Workman to reinstate fired arena GM, Beshear cites concern about NCAA games

by Joe Arnold


Posted on February 28, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 28 at 11:06 PM

(WHAS11) -- On the heels of the firing of the KFC Yum! Center General Manager Ted Nicholson on Monday, the Kentucky State Fair Board's Executive Committee has instructed Fair Board President Harold Workman to reinstate Nicholson immediately and to refrain from any other personnel decisions.

The confusion and controversy comes two weeks ahead of the first NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament games at the downtown Louisville arena.  Nicholson is regarded as a key figure in the planning of those games.

"We'll have those coming, and there's some concern about making sure that whatever happens with management there that it doesn't hurt the center in terms of its performance at those events," Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D) told WHAS11.
As first reported on WHAS11.com on Tuesday morning, Kentucky State Fair Board Chairman Ronald Carmicle said that the board's Executive Committee was not consulted and did not approve of Workman's decision to fire Nicholson, the arena's only General Manager since before it opened in 2010.

"The decision to terminate the employment of Ted Nicholson as Manager of the KFC YUM! Center was made by Harold Workman without prior notice or discussion with the members of the Board," Carmicle said in a statement.  "After consultation with members of the Executive Committee, and receiving their support, I have requested that Mr. Workman not proceed with any further personnel action, and that he reinstate Mr. Nicholson effective immediately."

On Monday, Workman's office did not specify why Nicholson was fired. 

Last week, the Fair Board made a move to start Workman's removal as Fairgrounds President, a position he has held since 1993.  Workman's contract expires on June 30.

Carmicle told WHAS11 that it was regrettable that the two situations had become intertwined, and acknowledged that the controversies threatened to raise doubts in the community about the health of the KFC Yum! Center.

"The Kentucky State Fair Board is proud of the role we have played in the success of the arena," Carmicle's statement continued, "and we are committed to provide all resources and necessary support to the University of Louisville in their role as the primary tenant, and also as host of the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament."

Arena Authority Chairman Jim Host said the KFC Yum! Center was on sound financial footing and that the financial health of the arena was affirmed when Standard & Poor's took the KFC Yum! Center off a credit watch earlier this month.

Attempts to reach Workman for comment were unsuccessful.  Workman has not made any comments to the media since initial reports earlier this month that the Fair Board was working to replace him.

At its meeting last week, the board voted to add a Chief Financial Officer and begin the transition process for Workman's eventual departure.