Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Recent Sports Developments

There has been a spate of recent sports related news and developments in Louisville in the past couple of days.

To me, the most exciting in the proposal by Mayor Abramson to create Champions Park along the riverfront from Frankfort Avenue to Zorn Avenue on the property that had once been a country club. This is yet another great park initiative that is being pushed by the mayors office. The new park would encompass 166 acres of land and would fill a need for more field space in which to have soccer, cricket, lacrosse, et cetera, matches.

The centerpiece of Champions Park will be 34 sports fields that will be able to host the city's own soccer leagues, or host regional and national tournaments. Other amenities include a cyclocross, a dog park, a cross-country track, basketball courts, large open fields not devoted to a certain sport, restrooms, parking lots, bike paths, and a large wetlands rehabilitation. River Road will be expanded to 4 lanes in 2009 by the state of Kentucky to accommodate this and other local developments. The mayor proposes to spend 5 million dollars on the project in his 2008 budget, and another 5 million between 2009 and 2012.

Projects like this, and the City of Parks, are huge boosts to local quality of life, help save precious green space in the county, and offers a huge return for the minimal investment. I am a proponent of the new Louisville Arena, but in many regards this small investment will give the average Louisvillian more to do than the huge investment we're making in the arena will. But again, these are both important pieces in the puzzle for quality of life in Louisville.

In similar news, the Clements family of Elizabethtown has announced plans for a sports center that is devoted to persons with special needs in Kentucky. The center, to be called The MVP Zone, will be in the Floyd's Fork corridor and will be a centerpiece of the City of Parks plan.

The center will have an Olympic sized pool specially crafted for handicapped persons, a golf course with synthetic turf to allow easy access for those in wheelchairs, a large community center will provide an exercise room and courts for volleyball, basketball, et cetera, a computer lab, and a small movie theatre. The Clements family has said they will donate 3 million dollars to the project and will coordinate fundraising efforts to raise another 8 million. Mayor Abramson will propose a 1 million dollar gift of land to the center in his 2008 budget, and the founder of Humana and his wife have promised another 2 million. Backers of the plan hope to not only provide new services for local handicapped residents, but to bring in national competitions. With a lack of such facilities around the country, Louisville will be on the forefront with such an ambitious facility.

Switching gears just a bit - Blue Equity has purchased the sports agency of Joel Segal. Jonathan Blue, the man behind Blue Equity, and his brother Todd Blue are two of Louisville's youngest and most influential leaders. Todd is still focusing his efforts on downtown housing and retail developments, and while Jonathon is still collaborating with his brother, he currently has is eye on creating a world class sports agency and bringing it all home to Louisville.

Segal will remain with Blue Equity as president of the football division, which has quite a repertoire of high-profile clients. Blue Equity plans to continue purchasing and growing the sports side of the business, and despite Louisville's lack of national prominence in pro sports, he hopes to bring in the money and light to Louisville by continuing to grow his business of televising national sports events, and diverting events to the city.

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