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N. Ky. officials celebrate arena's first year

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) - Northern Kentucky University
officials are celebrating the success of the inaugural year of a
$68 million arena and possibly eyeing a move up to higher athletic
competition soon.
The 10,000-seat Bank of Kentucky Center, which opened last year,
drew rave reviews from performers, athletes and organizations who
took part in 140 events in the facility. University officials say
the arena grossed a bout $3 million, more than the $2.4 million
originally projected by the university, said Ken Ramey, NKU's vice
president for administration and finance.
The Kentucky Enquirer reported that operation costs still
outpaced revenues by about $430,000, but university leaders expect
the center will be in the black within three years.
"I don't know that the arena's value is financial," Ramey
said. "It is a visibility and outreach asset. We have had people
here that would have never been to Northern Kentucky University if
it weren't for the events that come to the building."
The success of the arena and growth of the university has
Northern Kentucky University President James Votruba and other
school officials weighing a leap to Division I college athletics.
Votruba said there are two more years remaining on the NCAA's
moratorium on schools joining Division I sports and colleges will
learn in October what some of the requirements are for making the
leap.
The university's Board of Regents will then have to decide
whether the benefits outweigh the costs, he said. But, the Bank of
Kentucky Center and the university's growth during the past five
years have made going Division I possible, he said.
"The Bank of Kentucky Center makes NKU a very attractive school
for a conference affiliation," Votruba said. "That facility is
nicer than three quarters of the Division I programs. It is a
world-class facility."
Enrollment in the past 10 years has grown from 11,800 to 15,600
and a new dorm with 460 beds opened in 2008.
And next door to the Bank of Kentucky Center, a $10 million
soccer complex that will seat 1,200, is under construction.
Until a decision is made, though, university officials plan to
keep scheduling the type of acts that have drawn more than 200,000
people to the arena, said Molly Pascucci, general manager of the
Bank of Kentucky Center.
Big acts including Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins, Larry the Cable
Guy, Buckcherry and Cirque Du Soleil have all played in the past
year at the arena, which can seat up to 10,000. Rapper Jay-Z will
play there in October and rock bands REO Speedwagon and Styx have
dates in November.
Cirque Du Soleil, the arena's most attended event to date, plans
to come back in April, Pascucci said.
"They really liked that venue," Pascucci said.
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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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