Community

The Louisville Urban League is focusing its efforts on getting local organizations and businesses to buy seats inside its proposed track and field facility in the West End.

The Urban League launched the second phase of its fundraising campaign on Thursday for its Sports and Learning Complex, a facility that will replace a 24-acre brownfield on Muhammad Ali Blvd.

So far, the nonprofit has raised more than $17 million for the project, but Louisville Urban League president and CEO Sadiqa Reynolds says the emphasis is now to challenge companies to donate more in hopes of raising an additional $20 million by Sept. 30 for the indoor and outdoor facility.

“Listen, we have set a ridiculous goal, and I know because everybody has told me it is ridiculous,” Reynolds said. “Twenty million dollars between today and September 30. We are going to do that by selling these seats.”

The campaign, titled #RUNWITHUS, is encouraging “every business owner and CEO” in the community to buy naming rights for one of the 4,000 seats inside the facility for $5,000 apiece.

Alice Houston, the campaign’s co-chair, said the Louisville Sports Commission estimates 20,000 to 30,000 people will travel to the facility from across the country to compete and spectate during the indoor track season alone. She said this will generate $47 million per year in economic impact.

“A gift of $5,000 will ensure you, your company or a cherished loved one will be written into the history of this project,” Houston said. ““This is what the West End needs. This is what Louisville needs. Track is an equalizing sport.”

Reynolds said the second leg of the campaign will be kicked off by sending letters to 4,000 businesses, foundations and organizations inviting them to make a gift. Although more than 200 of the targeted organizations are in the West End and downtown area, the fundraiser’s focus is not limited to local entities.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the project will require “everybody’s help” and is calling for donations of all sizes to make it happen.

“Small gifts, nice-sized gifts like the $5,000 gifts we’re saying, and we need those corporate gifts of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars and millions of dollars as well to make this happen,” Fischer said.

The Urban League also named AEG as the manager of the future complex; the global company will be responsible for operating, marketing and booking the venue.

AEG manages and operates sports and entertainment venues across the world including the PlayStation Theater in New York City, the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, and the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.

“I’ve done this all my life and I’ve done it all around the world, “said AEG Senior Vice President Richard Krezwick. “There are very, very few projects that stick out and are as special as this one.”

The Urban League’s vision for the complex is to draw track teams and spectators from across the country to Louisville to compete in NCAA, USA Track and Field and collegiate and high school events.

Reynolds said the Urban League plans to start work on the project in August. She has previously said construction would take 24 months.