Education

The Louisville Urban League says it still needs $12 million to complete a 4,000-seat track and field complex under construction in west Louisville.

The Norton Sports Health Athletics & Learning Complex is being built on 24 acres of contaminated land in the Russell neighborhood. Urban League president and CEO Sadiqa Reynolds said they’re cleaning up the site, and creating an indoor track, outdoor track, event spaces and classrooms.

“It all is connected,” Reynolds said. “I’m using track as a carrot to get to something else because I understand that’s what it was in my life.”

“Just to be able to win on the track field, it changed everything about how I saw myself, my self confidence,” she said.

Reynolds said she expects to complete the athletic complex by the end of 2020. The league has about $25 million dollars committed so far – including $10 million in bonds from the Louisville Metro Council and $5 million from Norton Healthcare.

DuPont Manual High School Senior and track team member Michael Morgan said the complex would benefit athletes across the city who are training in substandard facilities.

“The conditions of most of the track facilities around this city are honestly pretty poor,” Morgan said at a press conference hosted by the Urban League and Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS). “And I know it’s difficult for parents and athletes to have to travel hours just for the opportunity to run on an indoor surface, or a track that isn’t halfway torn up.”

The complex will help address the district’s facility problems, according to JCPS superintendent Marty Polio.

“Athletic facilities are symbolic of how much we care and we put into our kids,” Polio said.

He said because the district doesn’t have an indoor track facility, many track and field athletes have to use high school hallways and stairwells to train during the winter and early spring months.

The Urban League has been raising funds by selling seats to donors at $5,000 a piece. They say they’ve raised funding from a number of private donors, including a group of DuPont Manual’s class of 1976. The group had raised about $10,700 as of Monday, according to Reynolds.

But Reynolds called Louisville’s corporate community participation in the project “unacceptable.”

“Our systems are broken because the people with the money, the corporations that are making money, the banks that are making money, are not investing in the way that they should,” she said.

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.