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Ready To Run: Louisville Urban League Finalizes Sports Complex Funding

Development of the Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center in Louisville's Russell neighborhood was spearheaded by the Louisville Urban League.
Development of the Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center in Louisville's Russell neighborhood was spearheaded by the Louisville Urban League.

A week after opening the indoor portion of its state-of-the-art sports and learning facility with a University of Louisville track meet, the Louisville Urban League announced it secured the last bit of capital needed for the project.

Sadiqa Reynolds, CEO and president, said Tuesday the $10 million loan from a group of nine community banks got the League to its $53 million goal. Over the years, the cost and vision expanded, growing from an estimated $35 million.

And last year, she said she was trying to secure $10 million through an Opportunity Zone investment, a federal incentive program that offers tax benefits with the goal of encouraging investors to put money into underfunded “zones.” Louisville has Opportunity Zones around downtown, west Louisville and south Louisville.

“The original business model was to build this without any debt,” she said.

When that didn’t work out, she turned to community banks for a loan “so that we could actually get the project finished, the doors open and the track meets running.”

Louisville-based Republic Bank collaborated with eight other banks to provide the loan.

“Lending a hand in our West End and ensuring the success of this remarkable facility will benefit our entire city for years to come,” said chairman & CEO Steve Trager, according to a press release.

Central Bank, Commonwealth Bank, L&N Federal Credit Union, Liberty Bank, Limestone Bank, Stock Yards Bank, WesBanco Bank and Wilson & Muir Bank also participated in the loan.

“I'm thankful. I'm ready to move forward. I'm glad the facility’s open,” Reynolds said.

She expects an April completion for the outdoor track, which will be adjacent to the indoor facility on a 24-acre former brownfield at West Muhammad Ali Blvd. and 30th St. There’s already a concrete base down, surrounding an oval of grass and providing a space for those who wish to walk. But crews can’t lay the cushioned track material meant for runners until the weather improves, Reynolds said.

The first piece of the complex’s funding came in the form of a $10 million bond from Louisville Metro Government. The League also got $5 million from Norton Healthcare by selling naming rights to the facility, and $3 million from the James Graham Brown Foundation. Millionsmore came from New Markets Tax Credits, a form of financing that offsets investors’ tax burden in exchange for putting capital into low-income communities.

Reynolds declined to provide details regarding the breakdown of capital versus operating expenses. She said some of the committed funding will come in over time, and that sponsorship money may be used for operating expenses.

A previous version of this article referenced the amount of New Markets Tax Credits benefits to investors, rather than the amount received by the Louisville Urban League.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.

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