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LOUISVILLE-An official groundbreaking will be held Friday for the $337 million new arena being built in the Downtown. The 700,000-sf arena will be the home of the University of Louisville men’s and women’s basketball teams, and will also be used for concerts and possibly NCAA tournaments. The project, to open in November 2010, has been a catalyst for more than $2 billion in commercial real estate development now going on in the city, says local officials. However, the organization tapped to own the facility is double-checking its math one more time.

The project is going up on the site of an abandoned car plant along the Ohio River, bordered by Main Street on the south, Third Street on the west, River Road on the north and Second Street to the east. The Louisville Arena Authority, an non-profit entity formed by the state and the city, will own the building and lease it for 30 years to the University. The Kentucky State Fair Board will operate the building when it opens. San Antonio, TX-based PC Sports is developing the arena, which was designed by HOK out of Kansas City, MO. M.A. Mortenson Co. is the construction manager.

The authority recently agreed to issue $360 million in bonds for the project, which includes $249 million for construction, $75 million for the site purchase and cleanup, and the rest is interest on the loan, says Jim Host, the authority chairman. The final cost of the bonds would reportedly be about $600 million, and the arena’s 30-year revenue stream is expected to bring in about $1.1 billion. The authority will wait to issue the bonds, however, until just one more analysis can be made on the revenue figures, he says. “We’re having an independent CPA firm certifying everything, this is a minor thing,” Host tells GlobeSt.com. “They should have everything cleared off the site by the second week of July, and construction will start in August.”

He says the 22,000-seat arena has already helped the Downtown, encouraging several hotel, retail and condominium projects. “The actual property tax grew 10% in the year after we announced the project, and is still up,” Host says. Redevelopment projects are going on at the Iron Quarter, Museum Plaza, Fourth Street Live, as well as the $250 million Center City district, which will include new offices, retail and condos from Second to Sixth streets, being developed by the Baltimore-based Cordish Co.

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