By James Natsis
A casual drive along North English Station Road through a rather industrial stretch of Middletown is a seemingly unlikely location for what has emerged as a premier sports complex and a center for lacrosse development and competition that has attracted attention from around the region.
Since its inception in October 2015, King Louie’s Sports Complex has made its mark on the Louisville field sports scene and continues to expand its operations to offer activities to all age groups through a variety of options.
King Louie co-owner Mike Havill invited Insider to chat over a cup of coffee and tour the grounds on a recent blustery afternoon to view the latest additions — and to get an early glimpse at several projects in various stages of completion.
A native of Louisville, Havill developed an interest in lacrosse while living in Memphis a few years back. Although he had no prior playing experience in the sport, he was invited to play for the Memphis Club team. He played for five years before returning to Louisville.
He introduced lacrosse to his youngest son, who also shared a strong interest in the sport. Havill brought this background, along with a growing list of lacrosse-related contacts, as part of the package when he joined his business partner, Matt Rumpke, in June 2015 while the first phase of the complex was still under construction.
His role as the operating partner at King Louie’s is to organize and direct the sports programs and deal with day-to-day operations.
The grounds of the sports complex are divided essentially into two halves: The back area is comprised of 7 acres. It is where the field sports are practiced and played indoors and, as of recently, outdoors as well. This is where it all began and encompasses the essence of the King Louie’s brand. The front area near the street entrance offers a broader range of sporting activities and a casual meeting point for conversation and soon-to-be consumption of food and beverage.
The first phase in the back area consists of a one-story building that houses a 24,000-square-foot full-size indoor field. Lacrosse youth leagues and soccer youth and adult leagues play in the facility. It also is used for instructional programs for youths, as well as for local and regional tournaments.
The adjoining building of phase two in the back area was recently completed and opened in November 2016. The two-story structure is comprised of 22,000 total square feet. The ground floor is partially occupied by Edge Sports Performance, where they conduct speed and agility training. There is also an adjacent 7,000-square-foot indoor field used primarily for lacrosse training. The second floor has an indoor field used for general training and youth sports.
The expansion continues at King Louie’s as the ownership strives to widen its breadth of offerings to appeal to a broader clientele on a more year-round basis. An outdoor sand volleyball arena with three courts and amphitheater seating was recently completed as part of the initial development in the front part of the grounds.
A “Players Pavilion” also was added nearby where players and guests can relax and watch television, or shoot a round of golf on the two indoor simulators used for league play and casual golfing.
A large restaurant and bar is under construction hovering just above the volleyball arena. The target opening date is May 2017 if construction conditions permit. The owners are still crafting their branding of the facility while negotiating with potential operating partners.
King Louie’s will open its lighted, full-size synthetic outdoor field in the back area by February 2017. It will be adaptable for football, field hockey, soccer and lacrosse. They are partnering with the Louisville Sports Academy (LSA) to form a spring 7-on-7 football league.
“We plan on using it a lot for 7 v 7 football, which is becoming very popular these days,” says Havill. A smaller, natural turf field is opening directly behind the synthetic outdoor field as well.
Havill has a strong interest in lacrosse and is proud of the role King Louie’s has played in serving as a point of coalescence for the sport in the area and beyond. He sees King Louie’s as being to lacrosse what Mockingbird Valley has been to soccer over the course of the years.
“Lacrosse hasn’t been able to do that before,” he says. “We have been very successful at meeting lacrosse needs,, and pretty much everything is happening here as it regards the sport.”
A recent lacrosse tournament held at the complex brought about 100 youth players and their families to Louisville from cities such as Memphis, Cincinnati and St. Louis.
“We want to be more of a regional presence,” Havill says. “We take pride in everything we do. And the more we do this and provide quality, the more we attract people. Travelers want quality.”
As the new projects come to fruition over the coming months, King Louie’s will continue to attract a year-round clientele as its services span the course of all four seasons. Its prominence as a lacrosse point of reference will continue to expand while the complex seeks to diversify its sports role locally and regionally.
This role also may include a professional soccer team presence, as the Louisville City FC soccer club has recently spoken with King Louie’s about the possibility of using its facilities to fulfill part of their training needs.
King Louie’s is located 600 N. English Station Road.