Tuesday, March 20, 2001

KFC offers Grizzlies owner $100M to move to Louisville




The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Vancouver Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley has been offered $100 million from the parent company of Kentucky Fried Chicken to bring his franchise to Louisville, The Courier-Journal reported.

        Louisville-based Tricon Global Restaurants would pay Heisley $5 million a year for 20 years in exchange for naming rights. The company wants to call a planned new arena the KFC Bucket and the team the Kentucky Colonels, the name of Louisville's former ABA franchise.

        Heisley wants to move his team out of Canada, where he's losing millions. Other cities in the running are Anaheim, Calif.; New Orleans and Memphis, Tenn.

        Heisley has a league-imposed March 26 deadline to make a decision.

        Clark and Marzian said Monday that they were briefed by Tricon Senior Vice President Jonathan Blum on Saturday about negotiations with the team and the financing plan for the arena.

        Blum denied Monday that he disclosed any amount.

        “We are in discussions with the (Grizzlies) owner,” Blum said. “Nobody knows the number but us, and I'm not confirming it.”

        Last week, Mayor Dave Armstrong announced the city, state and Tricon had come up with a workable financing plan for the arena.

        City leaders have refused to release the entire arena financing plan. Part of it calls for the state to create a special tax district surrounding the arena. Most of the taxes collected in that district — including income taxes on NBA players and staff and sales taxes on food and souvenirs — would be used to help pay the arena debt.

        “I think the perception has been that (the arena) would be a private-public partnership,” Marzian said. “But to me it appears that the arena is the responsibility of the taxpayers.”

       



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