Louisville: A Uniquely Spirited Sports City

Louisville is a city famous for sports icons like Muhammad Ali, Churchill Downs and Louisville Slugger. A city with a thriving sports community, that’s been home to countless championships. And now it’s a city nearing the completion of a $1 billion transformation. On virtually every corner there’s something new—new Southern-inspired culinary gems, new distilleries, new, unique places to explore and an entirely new destination for sports-event organizers to discover, the Kentucky International Convention Center. Located in the heart of downtown, KICC has been extensively renovated and expanded. When it opens its doors this August it will feature 200,000 contiguous square feet of exhibit space, a 40,000 square foot ballroom, a 175-seat, state-of-the-art theater and 52 meeting rooms—all in a stunning “experience-driven” structure that’s been awarded LEED Silver certification. Also opening in 2018 will be 1,500 additional hotel rooms across downtown, the east end and in the trendy NuLu neighborhood. This includes the Omni Hotel, conveniently located a block from the KICC. The Omni features 612 guest rooms, luxury apartments, a market, two restaurants, a spa, a speakeasy and a rooftop pool. The KICC is one of two convention centers available for sporting events in Louisville. The other, the Kentucky Exposition Center, sits on more than 400 acres and provides more than 1 million square feet of climate controlled indoor exhibition space, meeting rooms, public areas and Freedom Hall, a 19,000 seat indoor arena. Speaking of arenas, there’s also the KFC Yum! Center. Located in downtown, the 721,762 square foot complex offers a seating capacity of 22,090 and additional flexible spaces for groups of 20 to over 500. Also located downtown is the Muhammad Ali Center, a cultural and educational facility inspired by the ideals of its visionary founder. The entire center can hold up to 1,200 people and includes art galleries, an auditorium, classrooms, a retail store, café and private-use space. Just a few blocks away, you’ll find the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and Louisville Slugger Field. The latter is home to the Triple-A Louisville Bats and for a few more seasons—until their new stadium is completed—the current USL Cup champions, Louisville City FC. Then there’s the legendary Churchill Downs, which accommodates more than 165,000 guests every Kentucky Derby day. Churchill Downs also offers a wide range of private suites and event spaces for all size groups. Right next door to the racetrack is the Kentucky Derby Museum, which provides a variety of spaces for events of up to 1,000 people. Louisville is also home to more than 120 parks across the city that every year host cyclocross and BMX racing, marathons, USA Cycling’s Amateur Road National Championships and more. Four of our major parks were designed by the creator of New York City’s Central Park, Frederick Olmsted. Be one of the first to see how Louisville has transformed into one of the most unique sports cities in the nation. To stay up-to-date on all the latest in Louisville, visit gotolouisville.com/sports.