V3 Sports Center set for spring opening working to create culturally-inclusive swim lessons

V3 Sports Center weeks from opening in Minneapolis

V3 Sports Center weeks from opening in Minneapolis

A $26 million sports center that’s been in the works for years is weeks away from opening in Minneapolis, but the mission goes far beyond sports.

The V3 Sports Health and Wellness Center will be the first of its kind on the northside.

According to the Minnesota Safety Council, the drowning death rate for Black children and teens ages 5-19 years was 5.5 times the rate compared to white children.

One of the big goals is to combat drowning disparities in the Black community by providing a culturally-inclusive space for swim lessons.

“I am just elated,” said Analyah Schlaeger Dos Santos, a V3 Sports board member.“Young people deserve a space in an environment where they can thrive and that they feel wanted, supported, uplifted and empowered.”

The brand-new building takes Schlaeger Dos Santos back to her childhood.

She was a V3 sports athlete in North Minneapolis but was forced to travel outside of her community for opportunities.

“We had to constantly find a place to swim. We had to constantly find a place to run,” Schlaeger Dos Santos said. “Not having consistent access to everything we needed was really difficult and our community suffers because of it. I call it an environmental issue.”

The community health and wellness center will fill that void for the first time in decades.

This building will be home to child care, a fitness center and a restaurant that brings food back to Plymouth Avenue North.

One of the big highlights is the swimming pools that will feature aquatics classes.

“If we did not have V3… I don’t know if I’d be as successful as I am right now,” Schlaeger Dos Santos said.

Leaders explained having access to swimming pools on the northside will have a ripple effect on kids of color.

“Swimming is generational,” Malik Rucker, V3 Sports executive director, said. “If the parent doesn’t know how to swim, the kids will have a 19% chance of learning to swim. So with that being said, if we impact our generation, we will see a difference in those drowning disparities.”

Rucker said the space was carefully crafted, starting with a bright blue mural that will meet members when they walk in.

“It says, ‘Surround yourself with the dreamers, the thinkers, the doers, the believers, even when you don’t see it for yourself,’” Rucker said.
It’s a message rooted in representation to show the next generation they belong in that space and success is not out of reach.

“It’s long overdue. We’ve been under-invested in for so long,” Rucker said.

Organization leaders said they’re still putting on the finishing touches, but the V3 Sports Center is set to open this spring.

This is phase one of the project. 

Phase two includes opening an Olympic-size swimming pool, basketball courts and a track by 2027.