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(Editor’s note: This post was corrected at 8 a.m. on August 31. The original version gave an incorrect amount for the contribution to the Vision Louisville project from Matthew and Brooke Barzun.)

We may be wrong, but we can’t remember any other official mayor and the suits event starting with the Stones’ playing “Start Me Up” at top volume.

Then there was the big game announcer introduction of former NBA star Keeeee-vinnnnnn JOHN-son, now mayor of Sacramento, at about the 20-minute mark of Mayor Greg Fischer’s Vision Louisville announcement at Leadership Louisville’s big annual luncheon.

Then Johnson proceeded to talk at length about Sacramento’s attempts to keep its NBA team, the Kings, which are threatening to bolt to Virginia Beach after the city couldn’t do a deal to build a new … wait for it … downtown arena.

KFC Yum! Center, which he kept calling “Yum Yum Arena,” was one of the arenas Sacramento officials studied in their failed attempt to build a new stadium for the Kings.

Which got us thinking, “What is Mayor Fischer really trying to tell us, here?”

  • Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up.”
  • Professional basketball star as the headline speaker.
  • Big discussion about a downtown arena.
  • Fischer’s first huge initiative devoted to asking Louisvillians for ideas about how to improve the city as the set-up.

We couldn’t help but think the whole event was about three little letters: N. B. A.

Which puts Fischer on the same page with Louisville attorney J. Bruce Miller … and on a collision course with University of Louisville President James Ramsey.

“We’ve got some issues, obviously,” Fischer said, alluding to the fact that U of L has total control of the KFC Yum! Center schedule while raking in most of the revenue from the financially troubled arena.

So, we called Miller, who’s in negotiations, or has been in negotiations, with multiple groups interested in bringing an NBA team to Louisville.

Miller said he was unaware of Fischer’s 25-year vision effort until he read about it on Insider Louisville. As far as he knows, an NBA team is not an integral part of a Fischer long-term plan “though we’ve had multiple meetings. He’s totally aware of what we’re doing.”

Fischer, Miller said, “has encouraged me to keep going,” aware that an NBA team would add 41 events to an arena that desperately needs more revenue.

Asked for the Fischer Administration’s official position on an NBA Team, Fischer spokesman Chris Poynter said, “The mayor wants one.”

When Louisville gets a call from an NBA team, “and we think that day will come,” Poynter said, Fischer has encouraged Louisville business leaders to be ready.


We’re guessing it’s because an NBA team solves multiple problems. It helps generate more income to pay the Louisville Arena Authority bonds. It ratchets up activity in the downtown taxing district created to finance the arena.

And most of all, Louisville becomes Indianapolis overnight, a pro sports team city that starts attracting the talent and businesses to go to the next level of prosperity.

Because this isn’t a town that’s ever been in a rush in its entire 200-year history.

Or as KJ put it, ” Wow, 25 years is a pretty big deal! I realize it took you 40 years to get the bridges going.

“Congrats on that too.”

 The rest of the Vision Louisville announcement was a little anti-climactic simply because we’ve covered it for the last two weeks.

Mostly, the Fischer effort is about finding a spark to consolidate all of Louisville’s gains since 2008.

Fischer’s point of departure is that all great cities, from Paris to New York, are the results of visionary plans.

Fischer is bringing in Matthew Barzun, chairman of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, and Maria Hampton, vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis to head a committee to begin the process of designing a bigger, sleeker and more efficient Louisville.

Barzun and his wife, Brooke Brown Barzun, have kicked in about $250,000 to finance the $1 million Phase 1 of the project, which will start with the IdeaFestival September 19 through September 22.

A Vision Louisville Pecha Kucha is planned for Sept. 18 at The Speed Art Museum.

Here’s the overall statement about Vision Louisville: 


We are ready to harness our collective energy and chart our path to the future, to decide how we want Louisville to look, feel, and flow in 2040. Inherent in defining our future is also defining what it is about our place today that is essential to its quality and how those essential characteristics connect to one another to further enhance our quality of place. To answer these questions and give form to our future path will take innovative thought and courage. It will take vision.

Our undertaking is bold. The Louisville Vision Plan will use a collaborative and inclusive planning process to explore and build a vision for a prosperous and vibrant future for our city. Focused on Louisville’s built environment and its development over the next 25 years, the Vision Plan will guide future development and investment while emphasizing growth, authenticity, preservation, sustainability, and quality of place. The Vision Plan will describe what is possible, not just what is probable, and will ask us as a community to strive for Louisville’s greatest potential.

Why now? Change is upon us – from the economy to the environment, the pace of change in cities world-wide is both rapid and far reaching. Meeting change head on and being proactive about our community’s future is not just about being competitive. Although being competitive is important, we also need to be about city-building — shaping our environment, building a beautiful and attractive city, and establishing a positive future.


The Vision Plan process will be overseen by an Advisory Committee of engaged and passionate citizens. This group will be appointed to take on the difficult task of keeping the project true to its place, while allowing vision and creativity to push the boundaries. Matthew Barzun and Maria Hampton have graciously agreed to co-chair the committee.

Space Group is the firm of architects and planners that has been chosen to lead the first phase of our effort. Gary Bates will be our Principle in Charge. Space Group leads an internationally-renowned planning team that will facilitate a phased interactive process involving community leaders and the public at large. The public will engage throughout the development of the Vision Plan through a series of workshops, forums and other innovative processes. One of the first opportunity’s for this innovative input will take place at the Idea Festival, where a 3D printer station will be set up to provide a chance for people to see their ideas for Louisville’s development physically take form. These ideas will be collected and used as inspiration for both the public and the planning team’s vision for Louisville’s future built environment.


Phase I of the Vision Plan centers on big ideas. It starts with the collection and interpretation of existing issues and opportunities. Space Group will reach out for public input regarding the built environment, and, using this input and background research, will build multiple future city scenarios. These scenarios will take the form of “big ideas,” and concepts for catalyst projects and development instigators, and will create the urban design framework for our vision of future Louisville.


Future phases of the Vision Plan will build on Phase I work to take a deeper look at catalyst projects and development instigators. Consultants and planning staff will further engage the public in a discussion of investment priorities. Priorities will be identified based on their ability to connect with a specific focus such as the economy, education, sustainability, transportation and the arts and culture, and will be the big ideas that move Louisville toward a more vibrant future.