Kroc Center opens in Cooper-Young
By Christian Hudson/MicroMemphis reporter
After three years of construction, The Salvation Army Kroc Center finished construction and opened near Cooper-Young Feb. 23.
Although a couple of the inside facilities were either still under construction or inspection, the center still attracted a large flow of people in its first week of the grand opening.
"I thought it was amazing when I first came to the Kroc Center, and later on I plan on joining classes like hip hop classes or aerobics," said Lauren Jackson, who attends Central High School.
Facilities such as the water slides and pools were not opened until a week after opening due to maintenance reasons. Other parts such as the Auto Zone Challenge, an indoor obstacle course, will contain more complex structures and features which will make the Kroc Center postpone the debut.
Chris Hall, a personal trainer at the Kroc Center, said, “In the Auto Zone challenge, that hasn’t opened yet, (it) will have group challenges for kids, inner city ministries, youth groups and others. It’s so they can learn basic teamwork and skills. On the inside it’s kind of like “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” to just show them how to work in teams besides just sports because here they use technology. We're hoping that this translates into the rest of the kid’s life.”
The Kroc Center is a 100,000-square-foot recreation, fitness and community center near the Liberty Bowl on East Parkway.
"The pool has an in-and-out water slide,” Eunice Akindona said. “I talked to a young lady earlier and she said it was amazing!"
The Auto Zone Challenge Center is still under progress but is said to be finished sometime in March.
Another benefit the Kroc Center has brought to the community besides fun and health is employment and the spread of the Gospel.
Kelsie Carter, sophomore at the U of M, is an employee of the Kroc Center and she says, “At first I looked at this as another job but after getting to know my staff and co-workers I realized that God put me here for a bigger purpose which is to help serve his people."
The reason the Kroc Center is even here is because Joan Kroc, wife of the founder of McDonald's, gave $1.6 billion to the Salvation Army in 2003 to open community centers. She said the stipulations were it had to be in a neighborhood where it’s both black and white, both rich and poor, and it has to be founded on Christ and has to exalt Christ. Also, first and foremost, the center had to be about reaching people with the Gospel.
"There are a lot of good things going on,” said Hall. “Ultimately, the goal is to reach people with the Gospel. That is what the Salvation Army is about."
Read The Daily News coverage of the Kroc Center’s groundbreaking in 2010.