On Thursday, Southland Park Gaming and Racing at West Memphis has pledged $300,000 for the completion of the Jimmie Lou and Floyd Sagely Conference Center adjacent to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Museum in the Verizon Arena at North Little Rock.
The pledge will allow construction of the center to begin.
The main hall of the facility will be named the Jeremy M. Jacobs Great Hall in honor of the chairman and CEO of Southland’s parent company, Delaware North Companies.
Southland Park Gaming and Racing, formerly known as Southland Greyhound Park, has been a part of the Arkansas sports scene since 1956 when it became Arkansas’ only greyhound racetrack.
“Given our long tradition in the state, we’re honored to be able to support the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame as it adds this conference center,” said Troy Keeping, Southland’s president and general manager. “We’re especially honored that Mr. Jacobs’ name will go on the Great Hall. He is one of America’s top sportsmen.”
Jacobs owns the Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League and has been the chairman of the NHL’s board of governors since 2007.
Jacobs is also among the most influential leaders in the sport of racing. Southland has donated millions of dollars to charity through the years in Arkansas. These donations include $1 million to Mid-South Community College at West Memphis for the Southland Greyhound Science Center, $1 million to Mid-South for its hospitality program and kitchen incubator project and $250,000 to Mid-South to start an athletic program.
Delaware North operates more than 50 professional sports venues around the world, including venues for the NHL, NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA. There also are venues in Australia and Europe.
“We’re delighted to place Mr. Jacobs’ name on the Great Hall,” said Andrew Meadors of Little Rock, the president of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. “Thanks to his stewardship and advocacy, Southland has contributed thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of economic impact to this state.”
The Economic Development Administration of the Commerce Department has awarded $1 million to Pulaski County to aid in the construction of the Sagely Conference Center. The conference center will, in essence, finish out Verizon Arena. It will be in unused space under the stands that originally was intended for a basketball practice court. The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, which will operate the conference center, has been raising funds to match the EDA grant.
The center will accommodate 500 people for a seated dinner and 750 people for a reception. It will be designed so space can be divided for smaller meetings. The conference center will cover 12,200 square feet. The adjacent museum covers 13,975 square feet. The museum opened in April 2007 following a $4 million capital campaign.