Flint, MI— The Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village’s up-and-coming sports complex, Sportsplex, received a $500,000 donation from Mat Ishbia, CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage and first-time donor to the City of Flint.

“I’m honored, and so proud, to contribute to the community and to the kids in Flint,” Ishbia said. “The SBEV Sportsplex will enable them to develop their leadership skills through sports and teamwork, which will help empower them and lead them on a road to success.”

SBEV offers an array of youth programs ranging from sports to performing arts and has recently installed a new state-of-the-art recording studio for public use. 

In Jan. 2020, SBEV received a $250,000 grant to construct an indoor football field courtesy of the Detroit Lions, the National Football League, Foundation Grassroots Program, and Local Initiatives Support Corporation. It was the first time the grant has been available to the Flint market, Program Officer at LISC Juan Zuniga said.

The center released details about Sportsplex in Aug 2020 at a community forum. Once complete, it will house three basketball courts, a half-length football field, and seat approximately 600 spectators, Lead Architect John Asselin said. 

“What we’re trying to do is bring back sports to the inner city of Flint, particularly here on the northside,” Executive Director of SBEV Maryum Rasool said. “[We want to] bridge the gap between downtown and the northside.”

Programs will be curated and conducted by Justin Cessante, football director for Legacy Center Sports Complex in Brighton, an organization that provides “world-class” facilities and training programs to athletes around the country.

Initially, programs will be focused on youth basketball, lacrosse, soccer, and football, Rasool said, but Sportsplex will serve as a community center as well, she said. 

Membership and program fees will be offered at a free or reduced rate to accommodate residents’ income levels, Zuniga said.

Ishbia’s gift helps “the dream of a sports complex on Flint’s north end to come to life,” an SBEV press release stated. He played alongside Flint natives Mateen Cleaves, Charlie Bell, Morris Peterson, and Antonio Smith as a member of the 2000 National Championship Michigan State Basketball program. 

“Words cannot describe the impact this donation will have on the youth of Flint for generations to come. This is a game charger,” Rasool said. 

For more information about the sports center, contact Maryum Rasool at (810) 210-2869 or email her at maryum@sbev.org.

Carmen Nesbitt

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...

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