Indoor Soccer Facility Opens in Kenner Gymnasium

169279635698959544KENNER, La. — On Jan. 22, the Jefferson Parish Economic Development Commission (JEDCO) and the City of Kenner celebrated the grand opening of NOLA Sports Center at the Butch Duhe Playground gymnasium. 

JEDCO said the private company made a significant investment to renovate the city-owned facility, which flooded during Hurricane Ida.

NOLA Sports Center opened its doors in 2019 in The Esplanade Mall before relocating to the Sunrise Country Club. Rafael Carmona, founder of the indoor soccer business, said he needed to relocate again to meet growing demand.

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The new location results from a cooperative endeavor agreement between NOLA Sports Center and the City of Kenner. In addition to money spent on improvements to the gymnasium building, the company will also pay monthly rent. It will also pay for utilities, provide programming for Kenner’s recreation and after-school programs, and perform routine maintenance of the facility. 

“We are excited about this partnership with the City of Kenner, aimed at fostering community well-being and promoting an active lifestyle,” said NOLA Sports Center founder Rafael Carmona in a press release. “This partnership marks a significant milestone in the shared commitment to enhancing the quality of life for residents through accessible and wide-ranging activities and recreational opportunities for both kids and adults.” 

Carmona said JEDCO has helped grow NOLA Sports Center since its inception. The economic development commission financed 86% of the original facility in The Esplanade Mall, which covered leasehold improvements, inventory, and working capital to startup. When the sports complex was forced to relocate following the mall’s closure, JEDCO provided site selection support and advocated for a partnership with the City of Kenner. JEDCO provided a second loan to relocate NOLA Sports Center to the Butch Duhe Playground and funded the site improvements. JEDCO financed 100% of the project. 

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“This grand opening is a direct result of the power of perseverance and partnership,” said JEDCO President and CEO Jerry Bologna. “JEDCO has proudly supported NOLA Sports Center’s growth and impact, even as the business faced many hardships outside of its control. Rafael’s determination to keep NOLA Sports Center open and operating is a shining example of the entrepreneurial spirit at work. Through many joint efforts, NOLA Sports Center continues to bring recreational offerings, athletic education, and joy to hundreds of children and soccer enthusiasts across the greater New Orleans region while also serving a significant benefit to the city of Kenner.”  

JEDCO said Kenner’s overall recreation numbers have declined over the past several years. The Butch Duhe Playground recreation district currently has one of the lowest participation rates in the city. The new partnership aims to increase programming and interest in recreational sports.

“This is an exciting partnership for the City of Kenner. The improvements to the Butch Duhe Playground gymnasium and additional programming at the facility provide an immense public benefit to the community,” said Kenner Mayor Michael Glaser.

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