LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Dan Issel, former NBA and ABA all-star and All-American at the University of Kentucky, has been named president of the Louisville Basketball Investment and Support Group, the Kentucky-based LLC created in 2016 to explore the opportunity to bring an NBA franchise to Louisville. More than 20 local investors have contributed a combined $750,000 in startup capital to support the initiative, referred to as "NBA 2 Louisville," that will help make Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky NBA-ready. The $750,000 represents the first round of a $3 million private placement memorandum (PPM).
The organization's primary role is to ensure Louisville and Kentucky are ready should there be an opportunity for an NBA expansion franchise or if an existing team expresses interest in relocating.
"There is speculation that the NBA could grant an expansion franchise to the West Coast, which would open the door for a franchise to be located in the eastern U.S.," Issel said. "This development - plus the impressive list of local investors - is the impetus for the formation of the NBA 2 Louisville initiative. And, it is the reason why I am so excited to be involved in trying to bring professional basketball back to the Commonwealth."
The announcement was made today by Dan Issel, Joe Steier, chairman and LLC co-founder; along with J. Bruce Miller, vice president and LLC co-founder; and Dianne Timmering, strategic consultant. The organization will focus on developing relationships with NBA owners and with the NBA League Office, and securing a major investor. It will also work to strengthen connections with the local business community, regional civic and government officials, as well as implement the strategic elements to make Louisville and the Commonwealth NBA-ready if the League does decide on expansion.
In addition to Joe Steier as chairman, the LLC's officers are Issel, Miller, Timmering, and Joseph Clark.
"It's been a childhood dream and lifelong passion to organize a strong group of community leaders to help bring world championship professional basketball back to Louisville and the Commonwealth," Steier said. "Today is day one of our quest to position our community as NBA-ready and seize the opportunity to use pro sports to enhance our community's quality of life, and help attract and retain a talented workforce."
"Dan Issel is the perfect choice to help position Louisville as NBA-ready," Steier continued. "He has strong ties to the NBA based on his playing and coaching experience, as well as his tenure in the Denver Nuggets' front office. He is well-known throughout the Commonwealth as one of the University of Kentucky's greatest players ever, and as a six-time all-star with the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA."
"Our 'A' list of investors who have funded this startup phase makes a strong statement about the local business community's level of interest in the NBA," Timmering said.
The list of founding investors include Matthew Barzun, Garvin Brown, Gill Holland, Neace BA LLC, Neville Blakemore, Greg Weishar, Ingrid and John Johnson, Neil Ramsey, Joe Reeves, Mark Lamkin, Joe Steier, Dianne Timmering, Damon Garrett, Nick Jacoby, Bearno's Inc., Paul Beam, Ankur Gopal, Jason Zachariah, Jason Waters, Adam Hornek, Joe Tichenor, and Todd Strause. Other key early supporters include George Timmering, Sherm Henderson, and Albrecht Stahmer, as well as additional key advisory board leaders who will assist with the overall movement.
"As Mayor, I wake up every day focused on ways to grow our city and compete on a national and international level," said Louisville Metro Mayor Greg Fischer. "We play to win. So I welcome collaboration among members of the arena authority, the NBA, the University of Louisville, and others in reviewing the potential for an NBA team to locate here. Data shows we have the population and the enthusiasm for basketball necessary to support a team, and I know that bringing back the Kentucky Colonels and Dan Issel has long been a dream for many Louisvillians. I look forward to exploring this possibility."
"Attraction of a NBA team would be a boom for Louisville and the entire state," said Kent Oyler, president, Greater Louisville Inc. - The Metro Chamber of Commerce. "The national exposure that comes with pro-sports could supercharge our existing efforts to market our region for talent, business recruitment, tourism, and conventions. We already have the fans, facility, and business support to make the NBA a success here; we just need a team. Kudos to the committee and investors for continuing to pursue this long-held dream."
"With great investors on board, great civic momentum generated by the Louisville Basketball Investment and Support Group team, and the addition of Dan Issel, my lifelong friend as our president, we will finally be NBA ready," said J. Bruce Miller.
The organization also has established an advisory committee that will support the staff and board on implementing the following five strategic initiatives to prepare Louisville and the Commonwealth to be NBA-ready.
1. Continue to accelerate the civic and business support for an NBA team in Louisville, Ky.
2. Demonstrate to the NBA the positive business case as to why Louisville should be considered a franchise city
3. Validate feasibility studies with city officials to show why Louisville has a legitimate opportunity to attract and successfully operate an NBA franchise
4. Attract and secure a qualified majority owner/investor
5. Continue to assess the opportunity to attract to Louisville an existing NBA team that is considering relocation
Issel will join the LBISG offices in downtown Louisville later this month to begin working on the project.