KFC Yum! Center


Kentucky Fair Board


Construction Cost: $238 million

Completion Date: 2010

Project Size: 721,000 SF

Seats: 22,100 basketball / 23,000 concerts

Roof Span: 406 feet

Architect: Populous

KFC Yum! Center


The KFC Yum! Center is a basketball and multi-purpose arena situated on the banks of the Ohio River in historic downtown Louisville. Home to the University of Louisville men’s and women’s basketball programs, the NBA-style arena accommodates over 22,000 fans for basketball and provides the revenue-generating amenities, luxury suites, and premium seating that were missing in the Cardinals’ former facility. When not used for basketball, the KFC Yum! Center is designed to host a variety of events including concerts, circuses, wrestling, boxing, swimming, NCAA volleyball, and ice shows.

The Louisville Arena Authority (LAA) desired “the finest college basketball facility ever built” that could easily convert to a public multi-purpose arena and spur economic development in downtown Louisville. Aesthetically, they desired an iconic landmark that gracefully, yet powerfully enhanced the downtown skyline and visually embodied the Cardinal spirit.

The majority of the challenges on this project stemmed from the site. From its existing conditions (massive obstructions left from previous foundations) to its location (adjacent to the Ohio River and almost entirely within the 100-year flood plain) and its narrow size (700 feet long but only 400 feet wide), designing a world-class arena with all of the necessary functions and desired aesthetics required ingenious engineering.

The LAA estimated first year attendance and the number of events to be greater than usual, given the excitement of a new facility, but the record 280 events surpassed their original estimate of 170 events. Also, with the added functionality and amenities, the KFC Yum! Center has been a recruiting asset for the University of Louisville.