Everyone knows Louisville, Kentucky, as the home of the Louisville Slugger and the famous Kentucky Derby. However, it’s also the home of a legend: professional boxer Muhammad Ali. Travelers can now witness Ali’s legacy continue as they travel through what was Louisville International Airport.
On June 6, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Lonnie Ali, the wife of Muhammad Ali, gathered to unveil the new brand for the recently renamed Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF).
Ali’s Legacy Continues
In January 2019, the Airport Authority Board voted to officially change the airport’s name from Louisville International Airport to Muhammad Ali International Airport. This change was decided on to show remembrance of and honor the deceased Louisville native.
“Today is an exciting day for the airport. As the world arrives in Louisville, we’re pleased they will be met with the name of ‘The Greatest’ that is prominently represented in the airport. We want travelers to feel [Ali’s] greatness and strength, to feel the compassion of our city, and to feel welcomed in a great facility,” said Airport Authority board member Dale Boden.
Muhammed Ali touched people’s lives in ways that far surpassed the accomplishments of his career, and the name and brand change aim to represent this.
Anwar Khan, the president and founder of Islamic Relief USA spoke about Louisville honoring Ali’s legacy. “Muhammad Ali was and is an inspiration to the world for people of different backgrounds. The renaming of the airport shows the world that Louisville is open to the world. The Muslim community appreciates this gesture of openness and love, which recognizes the legacy of one of Louisville’s favorite sons.”
The New Brand Reveal
On June 6, 2019, the new brand for the Muhammad Ali International Airport was finally released as a part of Ali Week, which takes place during the first week of June. The week, hosted by the Muhammad Ali Center, marks Ali’s passing through a series of events that celebrate his legacy and impactful life as not only as a heavyweight champion, but also as an activist, cultural icon, and global humanitarian.
Badge Design, a design company and part of the media and marketing communications company OvareGroup, is responsible for creating the new brand. The deep red to golden orange colors highlight Ali’s arms raised in victory -- symbolizing strength as well as power. The butterfly featured in the brand is used to refer to Ali’s most well-known phrase, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” but doubles in meaning to refer to catching flights at the airport. The icon’s silhouette completes the bold design.
The renaming of the airport and creation of a new brand to match signifies big changes in Louisville. What does it mean for tourism in Louisville, one of the most affordable U.S. cities to visit in 2019? Well, one hope is that travelers will be attracted by the changes made to the airport.
“The Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport serves as a gateway to tourism for the city, and it will now be a place for visitors to have a touchpoint with one of the world’s most recognized icons of all time. Even three years after our city’s most famous son’s passing, Louisville continues to see people coming from across the globe to discover and trace Ali’s legacy. The airport rebranding supports current marketing efforts to engage in Ali’s ‘Footsteps of Greatness’ as a reason to inspire visitation to Louisville,” president and CEO of Louisville Tourism, Karen Williams, said in a press release.
Muhammad Ali’s wife, Lonnie Ali, also had a few words to share on her hopes for the change to the airport. “No matter how many miles Muhammad traveled, he always came back to the place he called home and he always made his visitors feel welcome. It is my hope that all people who travel to Louisville will feel that same welcoming spirit as they enter this airport and want to return to visit again soon.”
The Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport receives approximately 3.9 million travelers bustling to and from the airport each year. If you're considering flying into or out of the airport, take comfort in knowing it services six airlines that offer more than 30 nonstop flights.
“With just one stop, travelers from across the region can reach more than 460 destinations in the U.S. and worldwide” according to the press release.
Want more information on catching a flight at this airport? Visit Fly Louisville Airport.
Road tripping through Louisville instead? Plan a trip to the Muhammad Ali Center, where you can enjoy Ali's art and poetry, plus unique and interactive indoor pavilions dedicated to the core principles of his life: confidence, spirituality, conviction, respect, confidence, and giving.
Photo Credit: Muhammad Ali on Facebook
Photo Credit: Louisville International Airport (SDF) on Facebook