The West End complex will have an indoor track and learning lab “that will be a keystone of the west end’s changing landscape.”
What started Tuesday afternoon as a groundbreaking ceremony for the Louisville Urban League Sports and Learning Complex turned out more like a church service.
Underneath a tent at South 30th Street and West Muhammad Ali Boulevard, a crowd huddled to avoid the soft rain outside and listen to the words of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” delivered affectionately by Metro Councilwoman Keisha Dorsey.
Bates Memorial Baptist Church Pastor Bruce Williams prayed over the 24-acre plot that will host a $35 million project that leaders said is a gateway for future West End development.
The center should be finished by the end of 2020 and will have an indoor track, a bowling ally and learning lab “that will be a keystone of the West End’s changing landscape,” Williams said.
It’s the passion project of Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League, who said the economic opportunities with the center are “almost endless” for Louisville’s West End.
She would like to see a space for mentor ships between professionals and students, a rock climbing wall, a concert venue and an outdoor classroom. She pictures food trucks gathered around the center to greet tourists and visitors, bringing in revenue for the area.
Fischer said he envisions hotels, centers, home ownership and property appreciation in the years to come.
The project will be completed in phases, each phase needing millions of dollars to come to fruition.
Phase one, which will include clearing the land, installing an outdoor track and constructing the building shell, will happen over the next year.
Around $20 million for the first phase was raised through community donations and fundraising, and leaders had announced goals to raise another $20 million.
They’ve been doing that through a Run With Us project, which allows people to donate $5,000 to the project and buy a seat in the complex with their name on it.
Education advocates David Jones and Mary Gwen Wheeler said they would match seat purchases up to $100,000.
At the end of the ceremony, Reynolds said the project had raised almost another $300,000.
“This is about economic development, it’s about education, it’s about jobs, it’s about investing in hope. This community deserves this,” Reynolds told the crowd, adding it’s “past time” that the community has sustainable revenue.
“The truth is, 24 acres would not be allowed to sit in a community that wasn’t poor, that wasn’t brown or black. So let’s just be honest and say we made a mistake and now it’s time to fix it.”
How to donate to the Louisville Urban League Sports and Learning Complex:
A $5,000 donation can purchase a seat that will go in the center and feature the donor’s name or someone they wish to honor.
The complex will have at least 4,000 seats with the possibility of doubling that when construction starts. To purchase a seat as part of this Run With Us campaign, visit sportsandlearningcomplex.org/seats.
Smaller donations can be made at sportsandlearningcomplex.org/runwithus using a credit or debit card.
Donors also may set up payments for regular contributions.