By   – Intern, Louisville Business First
 Updated 

#RunWithUs

That’s the campaign hashtag roared by the crowd at a news conference at Central High School Thursday morning.

The Louisville Urban League Sports and Learning Complex is a $35 million project planned for a 24-acre lot on the corner of 30th Street and West Muhammad Ali Boulevard. Today marks the beginning of Phase II of its capital fundraising campaign.

Louisville Urban League CEO Sadiqa Reynolds told me the organization raised “a little more than $17 million” in the first phase of the campaign, including a $10 million allocation from Louisville Metro Government.

But, she said, there’s still a long way to go. Reynolds announced at the news conference that the Louisville Urban League aims to raise an additional $20 million by Sept. 30 through the sale of naming rights for each of the 4,000 seats in the indoor facility of the complex. They’ll be offered for $5,000 each.

Reynolds said although it’s a bold task, it can be accomplished with perseverance and teamwork from Louisville businesses and residents.

To start the campaign, 4,000 businesses, foundations and organizations in the region will receive personal letters inviting them to the support the complex — and more than 200 in the West End area and downtown will receive hand-delivered letters, Reynolds told the crowd.

In another big development for the project, Los Angeles-based AEG, a worldwide brand in event and venue management, has been selected to manage and operate the complex. The company also manages the KFC Yum Center, and earlier this year it was chosen to manage the new Louisville City FC soccer stadium.

“We are thrilled to support the Louisville Urban league with what will be a new world-class attraction in Louisville’s West End,” Bob Newman, president of AEG Facilities, said in a news relea

A large outdoor track also is planned that would be designed to high school standards. It would have bleacher seating and be capable of hosting track meets for high school and youth sports leagues. Reynolds said the complex could double as a concert venue as well.

Richard Keswick, senior vice president of AEG facilities Europe, told me in an post-conference interview that the facility will be a catalyst for the surrounding community, bringing businesses and potentially hotels close by.

In the first phase of the Urban League’s fundraising campaign, the nonprofit received a $3 million contribution from the James Graham Brown Foundation and personal commitments totaling $3 million from six Louisville business leaders: Alice and Wade Houston, Junior Bridgeman, David Jones Jr., Mary Gwen Wheeler and Christy Lee Brown.

“This is what urban revitalization is all about,” Reynolds said. “We need everybody, together. … I am so thankful to this community. It is my honor to be able to respond to this community. This is the work of my life, this is my life purpose.”

To commemorate the day, children, camps and families from across the city participated in RunJumpThrow (RJT) hosted by USA Track & Field. RJT provides children and youth a fun and free chance to learn and practice the foundation skills of all sports — running, jumping and throwing.

Reynolds said she is excited to see a championship-level sports complex come to Louisville, and hopes to see future Olympians practice at the facility.

Source: Louisville Urban League on sports complex: #RunWithUs – Louisville Business First