As Spalding University gears up for the grand opening of its new athletic complex, one of its neighboring schools is claiming that it is a "symbol of white privilege."
Krystal Goodner, spokeswoman for Simmons College of Kentucky, the commonwealth's only private historically black college and university, said that the school had tried to acquire the same land earlier this decade.
"This is gentrification," Goodner said. "It's an opportunity for (Spalding) to go further past Ninth Street, instead of institutions that have already been there and to serve that community to utilize that land."
Spalding purchased the property -- two adjoined pieces of land, bounded by South Eighth and Ninth streets and West Breckinridge and West Kentucky streets -- for about $1 million in 2014 after a year of negotiations.
In September, Spalding finished constructing its state-of-the-art, 7.3-acre athletic complex at the site. It includes two turf soccer fields and a turf softball field.
The grand opening of the fields is Wednesday, with a men's and women's soccer doubleheader against Greenville University, and a "First Kick" ceremony in between the games.
Some have praised the project as a way to bridge the "Ninth Street divide," a term commonly used to describe the division between the wealthier, whiter east side of Louisville and the city's west side, where many black residents live and where poverty is a major challenge.
Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said that the school "greatly values diversity in all our endeavors."
"Spalding has been committed to its neighborhood for 100 years, and we continue to do our part to improve it," McClure said. "The property where the fields are built was acquired more than five years ago on an unused former industrial site, and we are proud of how the transformation that's taken place there will help the community."
But some students at Simmons "feel blocked out" by seeing the athletic complex across the street, Goodner said.
Moved by his students' frustration, Dr. Kevin Cosby, president of Simmons, is launching an event called "Truthful Tuesdays" where students, administration and community members can voice their displeasure. The event will be held on the fourth Tuesday of every month.
The first event will be held 5 p.m. Oct. 22 (today) on Simmons' campus at Seventh Street, where students, administration, community members and Cosby will hold a "candid conversation about philanthropic discrimination" and activate the school's "wish list," which includes increasing scholarships and infrastructure for the school.