The leaked arena memo

Apr 28, 2010 at 5:00 am

Confidential memo from the Arena Authority chairman to its board of directors:

Folks, I’ve got good news and bad news on the arena. First the good news: Yum! is going to bail us out to the tune of $13.5 million for naming rights. Of course, that’s a drop in the bucket (yeah, you heard me; I said “bucket”) compared to the arena’s $238 million cost, but we don’t teach much math in this state, so we should be OK with the taxpayers. At least until the bonds start maturing.

As you know, it’s a bitch to sell naming rights in this economy. And with corporate logos plastered on virtually every surface in America — from classrooms, sidewalks and urinals to Kate Gosselin’s tramp stamp — getting $13.5 million to put chicken decals on the arena was a tough sell, let me tell you. So those of you who don’t have heart disease, get your asses out there and eat some Original Recipe today. This is a celebration!

Obviously there are some strings attached, so let’s get right to the bad news. First, the arena is officially going to be known as the “KFC Yum! Center.” But let’s get real: Nobody’s going to actually call it that other than the tools in the sports media. To everyone else, it’ll be “The Bucket.”

Of course, we’ll have to plaster that goddamn Yum! logo all over the building, inside and out. I know some of you insisted we ban their ridiculous exclamation point, but that would have killed the deal. The Yum! people love their logo, and they are the ones who’ve convinced billions of people to eat extra crispy chicken skin and gelatinous gravy, so we’re going to let them make this call. Sorry.

This next stipulation is a disappointment, but we’re going to have to live with it. As you know, we designed the arena to look like a combination printer/fax/copier, hoping to sell naming rights to Lexmark or Hewlett-Packard, but that did not pan out. Squeezed in by the bridge there, the “laser printer” arena apparently makes the waterfront look too much like a crowded office desk. The Yum! people want us to go with more of a dinner table motif instead. Specifically, we must redesign the arena to resemble a 30-piece bucket. So we’re going to have to tear it down and start over.

Additionally, they want us to redesign the Ali Center to look like a Styrofoam pint of mashed potatoes, the Aegon Building to look like a pint of slaw and the Galt House towers to look like salt and pepper shakers. Oh, and we’re going to have to retrofit the arena’s fountain nozzles to accommodate gravy. And because we’ll be serving Yum! products, we’re widening each seat to make room for fatter rear-ends. Instead of 22,000 seats, the arena will now seat 47.

I realize this is a setback, and it’s going to require a lot of work. But before you complain, please consider the demands I rejected. I refused to rechristen spaghetti junction “Pizza Hut Creamy Chicken Alfredo Crossroads.” I also flatly refused to design the new downtown bridge in the shape of a cheesy bread stick. (Jesus, can you imagine the liberal demands to eighty-six that idea?) And, while Yum! continues to negotiate with Coach Pitino about wearing a Colonel Sanders suit during White Out games, he probably won’t have to wear a Western string tie. I just thank God we don’t have to pay the players (out of our budget).

I know some of you are going to be disappointed by this news. After all, as arena names go, “KFC Yum! Center” is no Freedom Hall. On the other hand, it’s hard to suck 13.5 big ones out of freedom, which doesn’t even have a pot to piss in, much less a logo. But just because we don’t have a lofty name like Freedom Hall, that doesn’t mean we don’t have freedom. (Freedom to suck $13.5 million from the Colonel! Can I get a hell yeah?) God bless corporate America, God bless fried chicken, and God bless college basketball. See you at the games!


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