Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - Within minutes of the announcement, a temporary sign was hoisted to the top of the downtown arena officially branding it the KFC Yum! Center. And just about an hour later, U of L head coach Rick Pitino announced the Cardinals will play Butler in their opening game at the new arena.
Louisville-based Yum! Brands, Inc. will pay $13.5 million for the naming rights. The agreement spans 10 years with the right to extend for five years if both parties agree in the eighth year.
"We are absolutely thrilled to unveil our new arena name," says Jim Host, Chair of the Louisville Arena Authority. "We have been patient throughout this process, knowing the excitement was building for this particular day."
The KFC Yum! Center name will be branded on the front and Ohio River side of the arena, as well as on the roof of the building. It also means Yum! brand foods like KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut will be available at various concession stands throughout the center - the availability of each depending on the event.
Host says four companies were being seriously considered for the naming rights, but Yum! Brands was the only Louisville-based company in the running.
"As the world's largest restaurant company based in Louisville... we have always been committed to investing in our own hometown," says David Novak, Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands, Inc. "The KFC Yum! Center is another great way for us to give back to the community and make it a great place for our employees and their families."
U of L head coach Rick Pitino said he was impressed with Butler and Duke in the final game of the NCAA tournament and wanted to play one of them in the opening game. The Cardinals take on Butler for the home opener inside the KFC Yum! Center November 16th.
Butler, which won a school-record 33 games (33-5 record), won the NCAA West Regional championship with victories over top-seeded Syracuse 63-59 and second-seeded Kansas State 63-56. The Bulldogs beat Michigan State 52-50 in the national semifinals before falling 59-61 to Duke in the title game to end a 25-game winning streak.
The tipoff time and television plans for the opening game have not been set.
The game is part of a two-year agreement, as the Cardinals will visit Hinkle Fieldhouse to play the Bulldogs in 2011 in a game tentatively set for Dec. 17.
U of L's 2010-11 schedule is incomplete and will be announced in early September.
U of L will return 10 lettermen and three starters next season from its most recent team which won 20 games (20-13 record) for the eighth straight season against the nation's 11th toughest schedule, while earning its 36th NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Cardinals have reached the NCAA Elite Eight three of the last four years.