The Louisville Urban League will spearhead the track and field facility project. | Courtesy of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government

The Louisville Urban League fell short of its ambitious 30-day goal to match the $3 million gift of the James Graham Brown Foundation for its proposed track and field complex, but will still receive a $250,000 contribution from the philanthropists Stephen Reily and Emily Bingham.

The married couple had committed to giving the Urban League that amount if the nonprofit received an additional $3 million in gifts and pledges by Dec. 31, though CEO Sadiqa Reynolds told Insider Louisville that the nonprofit raised $618,000 in that time.

However, Reily and Bingham will still give $250,000 toward the project — a $35 million track and field complex on a west Louisville 24-acre vacant brownfield property — with Reynolds noting their “commitment to the Urban League and to this project and to this land.”

“They want to see it developed, they want to see this happen, so they are moving forward with their commitment,” said Reynolds. “And I really do think that’s what we celebrate here.”

Reynolds says they have now raised roughly $17 million of the $35 million needed for the project — dubbed the Louisville Urban League Sports and Learning Complex — which includes a $10 million commitment from Metro Government. While the project will continue to move forward before that fundraising mark is reached, she added that the community needs to help get it across the finish line.

“We do still need the community to step up for this because we don’t have the resources to do this on our own,” said Reynolds. “And there are so many corporations, individuals and foundations still in this community that have not given, and we’re going to need everybody to be able to really accomplish this goal.”

A consultant hired by the city drafted an economic analysis last year estimating that the track and field complex would create a total economic impact of $15.9 million and over $325,000 in local tax revenue annually, assuming it was able to attract 17 major events in the five-month track and field season from November to March.

For the Urban League’s fundraising drive in December, the nonprofit released a series of videos from city leaders touting what the facility would do for west Louisville, comparing it to the economic impact that the Yum! Center has had for downtown.

“Black people in this community deserve an opportunity to have this kind of economic development,” said Reynolds. “I think this is a great project and we’ve got to get this community 150 percent on board in order to make it happen. I can’t do it alone, the Urban League can’t do it alone.”

The failure to match the $3 million gift of the James Graham Brown Foundation in December does not affect that contribution, which remains in place.

Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]