Norton Healthcare Inc. will contribute $5 million to the West End sports complex, officials announced Monday morning.
The facility will be officially named Norton Sports Health Athletics & Learning Complex. Norton’s contribution will consist of a $3 million grant and a $2 million matching funds challenge grant.
The roughly $40 million West End Sports & Learning Complex is being championed by the Louisville Urban League. Ground was broken on the facility, at 30th Street and West Muhammad Ali Boulevard, in late August. Urban League CEO Sadiqa Reynolds said Monday morning that the project is about $15 million away from completing its fundraising goal, which she said feels like nothing compared to where they started.
“This is a significant opportunity for Norton Healthcare to help unify our community and transform this key area of our city,” Russell F. Cox, president and CEO of Norton Healthcare, said in a news release. “This facility will bring with it the power to impact change and positively influence children and their families [through] sports and learning.”
At a news conference Monday morning, Cox called the contribution an investment, rather than a donation. A donation is when you give money and walk away, he said.
“We’re not going away.”
And he hopes the challenge grant will urge other corporate partners in the city to step up and be part of this story.
“It’s the right thing to do, and it’s way past time to do it,” Cox said of the complex.
Norton Healthcare also is a partner in the West End YMCA complex, which is nearing completion at 17th and West Broadway. Norton is taking more than 5,000 square feet of the building to operate a pediatric and family medicine clinic.
The 24-acre property is in the Russell neighborhood, near Shawnee and Portland. Plans include a multi-phase development to include indoor/outdoor track and field space with seating for 4,000, a learning lab, entertainment space with a bowling alley and an interactive rock climbing wall, community green space and outdoor event space. This project includes the potential to host a variety of services, such as mobile health clinics and healthy lifestyle classes. Dirt is now moving in earnest on the site.
“This development will have unlimited economic possibilities including the potential for future hotel, retail and healthcare offerings,” Reynolds said in the release. “We are very thankful to have Norton Healthcare as a partner in this exciting project. Our community will be better because of this relationship. This project is about revitalization of not just a neighborhood, but the human spirit.”
In its first fundraising phase, the Urban League raised $17 million, including a $10 million allocation from Louisville Metro Government. Gifts have come in from donors such as Alice and Wade Houston, the James Graham Brown Foundation and the Gheens Foundation.
During the August groundbreaking ceremony, the fundraising campaign received a cash infusion as guests joined forces to pledge about $300,000 to purchase naming rights for seats inside the complex.
Reynolds said in June that the organization wanted to raise an additional $20 million through the sale of naming rights for each of the 4,000 seats in the complex’s indoor facility. They are being offered at $5,000 each.
The Urban League has assembled a team of local and out-of-state firms to handle the complex’s design, including Columbus, Ohio-based architecture firm Moody Nolan Inc. and Cincinnati-based Browne Engineering & Construction. Los Angeles-based AEG, which already manages the KFC Yum Center, will manage the complex once it opens. Louisville-based Calhoun Construction Services Inc. is the general contractor.
Mayor Greg Fischer said during Monday’s announcement that he believes the complex will produce gold medal caliber Olympians and said he envisions an entrepreneur hub, restaurants and hotels opening in the West End as a result of the complex.
“This area will be changing radically in the next few years,” Fischer said.