Louisville Cardinals: Cashing in

Apparently, the home team is pulling down cash like it’s an NBA franchise:
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And yes, some of that cash used to be mine. I’ll be handing over more in a couple of weeks when Hartford comes to the Yum Center in Louisville to play the Cardinals.

A quick tour of Louisville

Here’s a time lapse video of the city I live in. The guy even got a shot around the corner from my house in Old Louisville.

 

The Dalai Lama needs a Louisville cap

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The Dalai Lama is going to be in Louisville on May 19 and 20. I saw him in Washington in 2011, where his profound message was “Don’t worry. Be happy.”

I won’t be in town to hear him say that again at the Yum Center, but I think I got the message the first time.

What I do find interesting, though, is his fondness for sports caps. The collection above is from Deadspin, which describes him as a “giant bandwagoner.”

Well, he’s going to the home court of the NCAA basketball national champions, the Louisville Cardinals. The least someone can do is get him a cap. Preferably one that says “National Champions.” I’ve got a cap from the Final Four that I’d give him, but like I said, I won’t be in town when he’s there.

I’m sure they’ll be generous enought to let him take his pick at the Cardinal Authentic Store. Throw in a football and basketball jersey while they’re at it.

Look at the photo above. He even got a Nats hat when he was in Washington, and the Nats aren’t champions of anything.

 

Louisville Cardinals rule Rupp Arena

Louisville Cardinals athletic logo

Louisville Cardinals athletic logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The NCAA Men’s Division 1 basketball championship goes into full dribble today as the round of 64 commences. Of course, I’m rooting for Louisville to go all the way. But some folks in Kentucky don’t feel the same way:

“You know how last year they said they hoped we’d win after they lost? UK fans don’t hope they win,” Kentucky fan Roby Thompson said, glumly, as he watched the Cardinals practice. “I don’t even hope they have a good practice today, to tell you the truth.”

And that’s why the Wildcats’ fans suck. Their team wasn’t that great this year, either. They were the No. 1 seed in the NIT tournament and got knocked out of the first round. Coming of the previous year’s national championship, that’s like the Mount Everest of suck.

The rivalry between Kentucky and Louisville is college basketball’s equivalent of a civil war. Only 70 miles separate the two schools, but they may as well be worlds apart for their pedigrees and locales. Kentucky is the winningest program in NCAA history, and its eight national titles second only to UCLA. Even with two national titles, Louisville will never be mistaken for a true hoops blue blood.

Kentucky’s campus is in the picturesque hill country, while Louisville sprawls across several blocks downtown.

OK, first of all, if it’s a Civil War, UofL is the Union and UK is the Confederacy. (Although there is an annoying monument to the confederacy in the middle of the road going through the Louisville campus. But there’s also a civil rights monument on Cardinal Boulevard, so it sort of evens out.)

I live six blocks from the UofL campus. I’ve been to the UK campus. UK is in Lexington, it’s not out in the woods. And Louisville isn’t the grand megalopolis that UK fans pretend it is. But UofL does have amazing athletic facilities. It’s too bad the men aren’t playing at the Yum Center, because that’s an NBA quality arena.

wbbbThe UofL women (pictured above) are there for the first round of their tournament, which begins Sunday. (Nice arena, huh?). In college basketball, the UofL women have the third highest attendance in the country behind Baylor and Connecticut. They’re a five seed in the Midwest Region this year.

But there is something rewarding about the men’s team going into Rupp Arena (the Wildcats’ home court) for their first round matchup. Winning there would just twist the knife a little more. And winning the entire tournament (Louisville is the No. 1 seed overall) would be like a chainsaw on the UK psyche.

(For a local look at the UofL men’s team go to cardchronicle.com.)

That’s the ticket

Morgan State Basketball Coach Todd Bozeman (pictured left) wasn’t enjoying his team’s performance against the Louisville Cardinals Monday at the KFC Yum! Center. His Bears, which are favored to take the MEAC conference this year and are expected to get a spot in the NCAA tournament in March, were trounced 104-74. The way the Bears were playing that night, you wouldn’t want to be in his seat.

But if you’re a Louisville fan, you wanted to be in the seat behind him. That’s my son, a sophomore at UofL, sitting behind Bozeman on the left.

A seat at the top of the Yum! Center for a UofL men’s basketball game runs $38 through Ticketmaster. We’re talking on the third level of the arena, at least 20 rows back. That supposedly is the cheapest seat in the house. But the face value of the ticket my son was holding was $35.

How is this possible?

Our tickets for this game were part of the package of tickets given to the visiting team for their fans. My brother, a former ESPN reporter, is putting together a reality series on the Morgan State basketball team, which will be picked up by a television station in Baltimore, the Bears’ home city. The team gave him a couple of tickets, so for the night, I was a Bears supporter, while my son, quietly, urged on his Cardinals.

He said the experience, though, “was like sitting on the bench for a varsity high school game.”

Teams put aside a number of tickets for supporters, usually family members or people involved with the team’s activities. The face value of those tickets are far less than what is offered to the general public.

The best tickets we’ve ever had at sporting events were those provided by teams. Back in 1997, we were in Pittsburgh when the No. 15-seed Coppin State Eagles upset the No. 2-seed South Carolina Gamecocks in the first round of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. Our seats were a couple of rows behind the Coppin State bench, since my nephew was one of the Eagles’ forwards.

It isn’t impossible to get those kind of seats if you aren’t with the team. But if you don’t have connections, it requires a huge amount of luck.

The best tickets we ever got for a baseball game was at Fenway Park, when the Boston Red Sox were playing the Texas Rangers in the early 1990s. We got to the stadium late and asked if any tickets were still left. The person at the counter said we were in luck. Some people didn’t arrive for their seats, but if we wanted them, we’d have to pay a little extra: $25 a ticket. We took them and ended up in the second row behind home plate. To top it off, the folks who had the tickets in the row in front of us didn’t show up.

It was like being the umpire behind the batter.

Yum!

A new arena has just opened in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s called the KFC Yum! Center, named of course after the company that brings us Kentucky Fried Chicken (plus Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s and A&W root beer).

The Eagles (the band, not the football team) opened the facility with a concert this weekend, but what the center is going to be best known for is college basketball. It will be the home court for the University of Louisville Cardinals basketball team. A ticket to a game runs about $60 for a lower level seat, and there’s a waiting list for season tickets. I’ll probably splurge on a ticket to a women’s basketball game: only $10.