Louisville Urban League Update on Sports and Learning Complex
Louisville, KY, February 17, 2020—In the summer of 2017, the Lousiville Urban League entered a city-wide competition and won the right to develop 24 acres of contaminated land located at 30th and Muhammad Ali. Our plans for that site were the culmination of community need, ingenuity, and most importantly, community voice.
Before the request for proposals went out, the West Louisville Community Council hosted a gathering at the Louisville Urban League where West End residents were asked what they would like to see done with this land. Overwhelmingly, the community expressed desire for a sports complex. This was not a new idea as a number of track coaches in our community and others have pushed for an indoor track facility for years. Armed with this knowledge and the support of the community and the Louisville Sports Commission, we moved forward with a proposal and successfully secured the bid.
Louisville is a day’s drive from about 67% of the country. We are building a 4,000 seat multi-sport complex that will host local, regional, national (AAU, NCAA, USATF), and international track meets but will have the capacity to host other sports as well. The facility will include a 4-lane mini bowling alley, an interactive rock climbing wall for the young people who are traveling with their families into the city and for the community to enjoy year-round. We will also have multi-purpose space to be used for educational programming and for youth and families.
On an annual basis the Louisville Urban League has an average of 18,000 – 23,000 visits. This facility allows us to partner in ways we haven’t been able to previously and to expand our ability to serve the needs of the community. The Norton Sports Health Athletics and Learning Complex will allow Norton to partner to offer services in the facility. We also have recently signed an agreement with Dental Dental to offer free dental services to the community. Beyond that, we will also add to our financial education classes by partnering with a local credit union.
This project will bring people with disposable income into the west end. We conservatively project 20,000 to 30,000 visitors, just during indoor track season–from December to March. All those other months, the facility will be open for other uses. The track’s hydraulic floor can be lowered in minutes affording us space to host a multitude of events, including adding a stage and another 1,000 seats to create a 5,000 seat concert venue.
The booking of concerts and sporting events all year will require expert planning and coordination. AEG, the world’s leading manager of sports and live entertainment facilities will be responsible for operating the Yum! Center, a 20,000+ seat facility; the Lynn Family Stadium, an outdoor venue with space for 11,000, the new home to Louisville City FC; and the Norton Sports Health Athletics and Learning Complex–the Louisville Urban League’s complex.
This is a big deal. This is transformative. This is revitalization.
We are under construction. In September of 2019, we began moving dirt. The lot has been cleared and leveled. The foundation for the building was laid, and, in February, steel began going up on site. We will be done with the outdoor track this summer, in time to host an amazing track meet this summer, thanks to a local/national partner. This entire project will be completed at the end of this year. We will be done.
In July of 2018, the initial projection was $35 million dollars for construction. However, it became clear that in order to clean the land, and build a state-of-the-art facility, we had to improve the quality of the design and the features inside and outside the facility. As such, this is a $50 million capital build. This is inline with other projects of this scale, including Louisville’s new soccer stadium.
Some doubted whether we would be able to raise $35 million, in fact we have exceeded $35 million and have $44 million dollars in funding committed at this time. We are $6 million away from completing the capital build! Like any good business leader, we will also raise another $5 million to bridge the operations of the complex because your first year is never as good as your fifth year.
This project consists of government funding, new market tax credits, philanthropy, community donations and corporate sponsorships, and a single opportunity zone investor. The National Urban League has served as a key conduit to our opportunity zone investor and to the National Development Council who is coordinating our new market tax credit investments.
Corporate and Individual Giving
It is time for our local corporations to step in and fill the gap. If we exclude Norton Healthcare’s purchase of naming rights for the facility, corporate participation is about 4% of our total philanthropic raise. There is a significant gap between what Louisville corporations have given and what they have the capacity to give. We are calling on corporations in this city to step up and invest in the west end in a way that says you care about what happens in this community.
There are also individual philanthropists of significant means who have been reluctant to invest or to invest fully. We need your commitment.
In summary, we started fundraising in July of 2018, and today we have $44 million dollars committed. This is the largest economic development project happening in the west end, and every company doing business in this city should be engaged.
Before we started this project, there was a community with 24 acres of dirty land that had been sitting for 10 years. We cleaned it up. We didn’t do it alone. It took a team of people. The team at the Urban League, volunteers, donors, and foundations. This project is already a major success.
But this community, the people that are here, deserve better. They are owed more than what we have given them for decades. We are going to be talked about across the country and for generations to come. Not just because of the project and what it is, but because of what it will do. And because a community built it.
We’ve had a lot of wonderful gifts, large and small. They matter. They got us this far. But we can do more. For those companies or individuals who have yet to invest, we want your support. You have an obligation.
This project is going to get done. Where will your name be?
The Louisville Urban League assists African Americans and those at the margins in attaining social and economic equality and stability through direct services and advocacy. For more information, go to lul.org or follow us on Facebook , Twitter (@louisvilleUL), or Instagram (@louisville_ul).
About the Louisville Urban League Sports and Learning Complex
The Louisville Urban League is transforming a 24-acre contaminated lot into a state-of-the art sports and learning complex. Indoor track and field is the anchor use, and athletes and spectators from across the country will come to Louisville to compete in meets hosted by the NCAA, USA Track and Field, colleges, high schools, and more. This development represents the only project proposed for the west end that will bring tens of thousands of visitors with disposable income into the neighborhood, revitalizing not only the neighborhood, but the human spirit. For more information on the project, go to https://sportsandlearningcomplex.org, follow us on Facebook , Twitter (@lulsports), or Instagram (@lulsportsandlearning).