New Louisville arena gets tasty name

After the long, sad goodbye to Freedom Hall, Louisville will have a shiny new arena for its basketball team in 2010-11. It looks great. New arenas are fun. There's just one little issue. The name.

Or, more accurately, there was an issue; the arena didn't have a name. No more. A local sponsor has stepped up and given Louisville's new joint a regal name befitting the basketball tradition inherent in the city's history. OK, I'm joking. The name doesn't actually do any of those things. It's just kind of funny. Ready? Louisville's new arena is going to be called ... drum roll, please ... the KFC Yum! Center.

It doesn't exactly ring like "Freedom Hall," does it?

Yum! Brands stepped up to the plate to earn the naming rights, signing a 10-year, $13.5 million contract with the Louisville Arena Authority and announcing the deal Monday morning. Yum! Brands -- which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and, yes, KFC -- has had its headquarters in Louisville since it became an independent company in 1997.

It will take no time at all for people to forget that this name is funny -- corporate stadium nicknames have a way of ingratiating themselves into the lexicon and losing all meaning except "that big building" as soon as everyone gets used to the idea. In the meantime, though, there's plenty of fun to be had, starting here. And if KFC is sold in the actual concessions at the KFC Yum! Center, the name is entirely worth the ridicule. That gravy is awesome.

The country's first introduction to the KFC Yum! Center will not be a minor one: The Cardinals have signed a deal to play national runner-up Butler on Nov. 16, the first men's basketball game in the new arena. That's a crisp, meaty season opener if I've ever seen one. Don't forget your spork.