Local Investors Revive Push For Louisville NBA Franchise

Feb 15, 2018

Credit J. Tyler Franklin

A renewed push is on to bring a National Basketball Association franchise to Louisville.

More than 20 local investors have contributed $750,000 in seed money to start the initiative.

They include former ambassador to Great Britain Matthew Barzun, Brown-Forman Company chairman George Garvin Brown and businessman Gill Holland.

The Louisville Basketball Investment and Support Group is led by Dan Issel, a former University of Kentucky star who played for the Kentucky Colonels of the old American Basketball Association and for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets.

Issell said he’s been in contact with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about the initiative.

“He said there’s no timetable for expansion, there’s no discussion about expansion,” said Issell. “But it’s my opinion that that will be the league’s position until the day, if and when it comes, that they start asking for applications.”

There have been no immediate plans announced for an existing NBA team to relocate or for an expansion team to be created. The last time that Louisville was in serious contention for a franchise was in 2002, when the Charlotte Hornets considered moving here. The team’s owner eventually chose New Orleans.

Also involved in the initiative is Louisville attorney J. Bruce Miller, who has long advocated for an NBA franchise in Louisville.

(Disclosure: Gill Holland is a member of Louisville Public Media’s board of directors.)