Ground broken for 31-acre youth sports complex

By Ray Richardson

Contributing Writer

WESTCHESTER — Public and private donations totaling $150 million have cleared the way for construction of a multi-dimensional youth sports complex that will serve the Westchester and Playa Del Rey communities.

Groundbreaking ceremonies on May 8 unveiled plans for Lulu’s Place, a 31-acre site that will feature tennis courts, soccer fields, volleyball courts, basketball courts and space for a variety of academic and athletic activities.

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass joined more than 150 dignitaries and residents at the construction site for near the intersection of 92nd Street and Falmouth Avenue.

“All young people deserve access to enriching sports programs and educational opportunities,” Bass said. “The city is proud to be a partner in supporting the development of Lulu’s Place. I am very excited that we will have a brand new recreational facility that the entire Playa Del Rey and Westchester communities can enjoy for years to come.”

Lulu’s Place is expected to open in 2026. The complex is named after the late Carol “Lulu” Kimmelman, a former elementary school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District and a member of the USC women’s tennis team that won the NCAA national championship in 1983.

Kimmelman was known for her dedication to equity in sports and providing opportunities for disadvantaged youths.

Kimmelman’s husband, Doug, stepped in to follow through on her mission after she died of ovarian cancer in 2017 at age 53.

Doug Kimmelman became the chief fundraiser for Lulu’s Place, securing financial support from numerous public and private sources, including the U.S. Tennis Association, Jersey Mike’s, Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Cedars-Sinai, LA84, Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer (The Ballmer Group) and Tiger Woods’ TGR Foundation.

“My four children and I are deeply committed to honoring Lulu’s legacy and her passionate belief in the power of tennis and other sports to impart valuable life skills that are essential for personal growth and academic success,” Kimmelman said in a statement. “We are thankful for the support of Mayor Bass, L.A. County and community leaders, as well as our many partners. This ambitious vision that our family dreamed up years ago is now becoming a reality.”

L.A. World Airports leased the property where the athletic facilities are being built to Lulu’s Place for 50 years.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is also planning to incorporate a TGR Learning Lab on the adjacent St. Bernard High School campus. The TGR Foundation develops labs to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

“Lulu’s Place is a huge win for the students who attend school in our community, including our own students, and will be a catalyst for positive change,” Archdiocese Senior Director and Superintendent of Catholic Schools Paul Escala said in a statement.

Lulu’s Place is located in the 11th Council District. Bass and 11th District Councilwoman Traci Park played key roles in generating support among the City Council for a sports complex that could have long-range benefits.

“I’m excited to see Lulu’s Place break ground in Westchester,” Park said in a statement. “This world-class facility will be a haven for youth from all backgrounds to build community, develop skills and gain access to athletic, wellness and educational programs that will help them thrive.”

As a tribute to Carol Kimmelman’s teaching background, Lulu’s Place will also provide academic programs to assist youths with their education goals.

On a website devoted to Carol Kimmelman, “,” Doug Kimmelman talked about his wife’s devotion to the importance of “life lessons for children in the classroom as well as on the tennis courts or in other sports.”

Carol Kimmelman spent most of her teaching career at Raymond Elementary in South Los Angeles. While teaching at Raymond, she helped create academic scholarships for Raymond students and served on the U.S. Tennis Association Foundation board of directors.

Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at

City News Service also contributed to this story.