The Louisville Urban League has a new goal of raising $30 million by Sept. 30 for its proposed track and field complex in west Louisville.

Students participate in a RunJumpThrow event with USA Track and Field and the Louisville Urban League at Central High School. Louisville Urban League is building a 4,000-seat track facility that will look to host USA Track and Field events, among other things. | Photo by Jeremy Chisenhall

The Louisville Urban League’s project to raise money for the Louisville Urban League Sports and Learning Complex now has a new goal: raise $20 million by Sept. 30.

The Urban League hopes to accomplish that by selling naming rights to every seat in the complex. They plan to have 4,000 seats, and naming rights for each seat will cost $5,000. The Urban League’s focus is businesses in Louisville, and officials listed off 4,000 businesses that they’re targeting with letters asking them to donate. Two-hundred of those will receive personal visits.

“This is what the West End needs,” said Alice Houston, who co-chairs the campaign called #runwithus, about the complex. “This is what Louisville needs. Track is an equalizing sport. Any child with a good pair of shoes, drive and determination can compete.”

The Urban League hopes that the complex, which would be built on a vacant 24-acre industrial site near 30th and West Market streets, will attract track and field meets for local public and private schools, the NCAA and USA Track and Field.

An economic impact study estimates that this complex would attract 20,000-to-30,000 people to Louisville during the track and field season if the complex can secure enough meets.

“To be able to know that we have another site, especially in the Midwest, where we can host national championships and youth championships, trust me when I can tell you the economic impact of what we can actually present and do for this community is incredible,” said Stephanie Hightower, a former American hurdler, former president of U.S. Track and Field and the current Columbus Urban League president and CEO.

A study conducted by Commonwealth Economics estimated that the complex would have an economic impact of $15.9 million annually for the city of Louisville on track and field events alone, which was previously reported by Insider. The study stated that the new complex could host two prominent national and two regional indoor track and field meets each year. The “sample list” provided in the study includes these potential meets:

  • USA Track and Field Indoor Nationals
  • AAU Indoor National Championship
  • NCAA DI-III Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships
  • NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships
  • ACC Indoor Track and Field Championships
  • Great Lakes Valley Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship (DII)

There may be a delay in landing events like NCAA championships, as the sites for those meets are already booked through 2022. The ACC has not had a regular annual host for its indoor track and field championships in recent years.

The new study also estimates that the complex would create over $18 million in new construction job wages. The study estimated the construction work would create jobs for 322 people and would have an initial economic impact of $47 million from direct, indirect and “induced” effects, as well as the labor income.

The Urban League said it had raised more than $17 million for the project. Mayor Greg Fischer and the city of Louisville have contributed $10 million. The cost of the total project is $35 million.

“There is no more exciting project, to me, than this project,” Fischer said. “…We’re reimagining what our city looks like, we’re drawing people to our city, and that’s why the city was very proud — my office and the metro council stepped up with the first $10 million.”

Louisville Urban League President and CEO Sadiqa Reynolds said that the project wouldn’t be possible at all if the city had not contributed the first $10 million.

The reasoning for the Sept. 30 deadline for the $20 million fundraising goal is because of New Market Tax Credit allocations that will be part of the deal, according to Christine Shadle, Louisville Urban League’s director of investment. The Urban League is looking towards a global financing closing in October, so all funds will need to be identified by then.

The Urban League is planning to break ground on the facility this summer. The outdoor track is set to be finished in the spring of 2020, and the indoor track is expected to be finished by the end of 2020,

Source: Louisville Urban League looking to businesses to fund sports complex