LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Planning for a new 22,000-seat downtown arena reached another milestone Monday when designs were unveiled showing a glass-enclosed structure that its boosters said would become an icon for the city’s resurgent downtown.
“This will truly be Kentucky’s Times Square and Rockefeller Center,” said Gov. Ernie Fletcher, an early supporter of the multipurpose arena that will replace aging Freedom Hall at the state fairgrounds as home to the University of Louisville’s basketball teams.
The exterior design was approved by the Louisville Arena Authority after considerable bipartisan backslapping. Fletcher, a Republican, and Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, a Democrat, praised one another for their roles in winning approval for a project that had to overcome divisions within the community over where it should be built.
The arena, overlooking the city’s riverfront, is part of an unprecedented amount of investment surpassing $2 billion for projects planned in the city’s downtown.
Another anchor of the development surge is the planned Museum Plaza skyscraper, whose occupants will include a contemporary art museum, hotel, luxury condominiums, shops and offices. Other developers are planning shopping and entertainment districts and condominiums.
The arena will include a public plaza, fountains and amphitheater outside the main entrance, which officials said would become a popular gathering spot. The building would include a curving roof line that represents the UofL Cardinal logo and the nearby Ohio River, said Brad Clark, a principal with the architectural firm HOK Sport, which created the design.
“We believe this is going to be a symbol of this community,” he said.