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Metro Newsroom

New Sports Center Planned for Citizens with Disabilities

Wednesday May 30, 2007

NOTE - This project was delayed in early 2009 due to challenging economic conditions.

Continuing the commitment to define Louisville as a City of Parks, Mayor Jerry Abramson has set aside $1 million to acquire land for a proposed $12 million community center and sports complex for citizens with disabilities.

The Most Valued Person Zone (MVP Zone) will be constructed in the Floyds Fork corridor as part of the City of Parks initiative. The public-private partnership includes an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a three-hole golf course, an indoor turf field, a basketball court and four bowling lanes. Metro government is in negotiations to purchase land for the complex.

Denise Clements, Integrity Foundation, speaks
Denise Clements of the Integrity Foundation describes the proposed recreation facility as Mayor Jerry Abramson listens.
The MVP Zone is a partnership between Metro Government, David and Betty Jones and Philip and Denise Clements, of Elizabethtown. The Clements are the co-owners of Integrity Rehab Group, a physical rehabilitation company.

The Jones family has pledged to provide up to $2 million to help purchase land, and the Clements family has pledged $3 million to help build the facility, which has indoor and outdoor components. The Clements, through their private, non-profit Integrity Foundation, plan to raise an additional $7 million to $8 million to complete the park, which will be open to all citizens.

“Our citizens with disabilities deserve a modern park and community facility that they can use,” Abramson said. “This center will be a model for other cities nationwide.”

The Mayor said he has set aside the $1 million in next year’s proposed budget for the project.

The Integrity Foundation was formed in December 2005 by the Clements, who have been married for 25 years and have three sons — Seth, Karsten and Jimmy Kev.

According to its mission statement, the foundation “strives to improve the lives of people by implementing athletics, recreational and educational programs that promote enjoyment, courage, positive values and character development.” The foundation focuses its programs on people who face physical, emotional, behavioral or learning challenges.

“In sports, all players dream of being the Most Valuable Player,” Seth Clements said. “In the MVP Zone, everyone is the Most Valued Person.”

The Clements family has for years considered building a sports center for people with disabilities. They chose Louisville because of its central location, large population and support from Metro Government.

The MVP Zone is the first project of The Integrity Foundation. It began as a vision for a golf facility for the special-needs community but soon morphed into a multi-purpose sports center. 

The MVP Zone will be open to everyone, but it will be designed specifically for people with disabilities. The swimming pool, for example, will not have steps, but a gentle beach-like decline, so wheelchairs may roll into it. The ground of the turf field and golf course will be reinforced, so wheelchairs can easily roll over it. And weight-lifting machines will allow the disabled to use them.

Shannon Main, executive director of The Integrity Foundation, said plans for the center include:

  • A two-story, 68,000-square-foot building and parking lot
  • Outdoor sports fields
  • An arts and crafts area
  • Dance and cheerleading section
  • Exercise and workout rooms
  • A physical therapy swimming pool
  • A movie/theatre room
  • Computer labs
  • Family locker rooms

Jim Fazio, a nationally-recognized golf course designer, plans to create a three-hole golf course. He also will design the landscaping for the MVP Zone. AM Contracting of Louisville, owned by Frank Avis, has agreed to build the MVP Zone at cost.

To help operate the sports center, Metro Parks will relocate the staff of its Adapted Leisure Activities program, which provides recreation for citizens of all ages with mental or physical disabilities.

The program is currently based at Douglass Community Center, which has only limited facilities for people with disabilities.  The staff and participants frequently travel to facilities throughout Louisville to use gyms, swimming pools, athletic fields and bowling alleys.