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KFC Yum! Center CEO: March Madness brings prestige and a financial boost to Lousiville

Officials say Sweet 16 games will bring an appreciated economic boost while putting Louisville on the global stage.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On Tuesday, crews inside the KFC Yum! Center set the stage for the NCAA Tournament -- literally.

Pallets of wood were delivered to the Yum! Center which crews assembled into a brand new court that four teams will play on beginning Friday night.

“It’s a lot of activity, a lot of fun, a lot of planning, but we learn as we go, and our building was set up for this,” Yum! Center CEO Eric Granger said.

He said public tickets for Friday night’s doubleheader are already sold out.

“When you have a full house coming, two games on Friday, you know they’re spending concessions money as well as merchandise money, etc. It’s a great revenue source for the arena authority,” Granger said.

That economic impact for the Yum! Center is something arena officials will be looking forward to after a down season for UofL men’s basketball attendance.

The Cards finished with just 4 wins this season, which led to 11 games with attendance under 10,000 people, and only two games where attendance was above 15,000.

For reference, the KFC Yum! Center seats more than 22,000 fans when it’s at capacity.

“It is a special event that we of course budge for, but it really is something that helps our bottom line,” Granger said. “It drives money to our TIFF district that the Arena Authority benefits from, so it’s really about the overall picture of the economics.”

UofL Associate Athletic Director Zach Greenwell says there's always a financial component that comes with hosting games.

"I think the thing that we’re most excited about is the exposure that this can bring to the University of Louisville and the city," he said. "When the KFC Yum! Center benefits -- when the city of Louisville benefits -- [UofL] benefits as well.”

That cooperation is something Granger emphasized as well.

Beyond the money, this event is a showcase for Louisville to appeal to basketball fans from all over the globe.

That kind of reach and impact can go a long way for future events coming to the Yum Center, and future investments in the city.

Greenwell applauded the way that the arena, the city, and the fans embrace an NCAA Championship-level event every time it comes to town, saying that care is what helps the university continue to win bids when they open up.

The first Sweet 16 game of March Madness is set to tip off Friday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m. Yum! Center.

It will be followed by the night game, which is expected to tip off at 9:30 p.m.

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