The KFC Yum! Center will be home to opening round games in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament beginning this Thursday. This is the second time in the arena’s short existence that it will play host to the tournament.
The arena, which is arguably the nicest in the country, should be a focal point of the first weekend given it is the site where the undefeated and number one overall seeded Kentucky Wildcats will open action.
It’s easy to take such an event for granted when the arena already plays host to several marquee college basketball games throughout the season, but having millions of eyes from all across the country focused on your city, and the nicest asset your city has to offer, for an extra weekend toward the end of the season is a big deal. Major basketball events in the city of Louisville are always something worth celebrating.
A new Wall Street Journal article, which examines the major TV markets for all major sports across the country, has dubbed Louisville, KY “The College Basketball Capital of the World”. According to the article..
People in Kentucky don’t just watch their own teams more than anyone else. They watch every team more than anyone else. Louisville has registered the country’s highest television ratings among metered markets in college-basketball programming for at least the last dozen years, according to ESPN data.
This should come as no surprise to the people of Louisville. The entire state, and specifically its’ largest market, is obsessed with college basketball. Even the most anti-basketball resident couldn’t deny that fact. But bring up the NBA’s popularity in the city though, and you’ll get mixed reviews.
There is a certain purity to college basketball. Student-athletes playing the game we love is often more emotionally fulfilling than millionaires playing it. It’s a fair argument for favoring the college game over the professional game. But basketball is basketball, and the fact of the matter is the city of Louisville loves the basketball they have more than anyone else. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that they would feel the same way if they had the NBA as well.
The people of Louisville love their basketball. The trick is making the NBA theirs again.