Leonard Coleman, new Churchill Downs director.

Leonard Coleman, new Churchill Downs director.

Coleman Appointed to Churchill Downs Board of Directors

Leonard S. Coleman Jr. has been appointed to the Churchill Downs Incorporated board of directors. Coleman, who currently serves as president of the Newark Sports & Entertainment Inc., is best known as the former president of Major League Baseball's National League from 1994-1999.

If Coleman is elected by Churchill Downs shareholders at their next annual meeting in June, he would become the first African-American board member in the history of the Louisville-based racetrack organization. Thomas Meeker, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Inc., said, "Leonard Coleman is an exceptional addition to the company's board of directors. His efficacy in professional sports management, public affairs, and stadium development offers a level of expertise critical to CDI's future endeavors in facility improvement as well as its opportunities on the legislative front. Our board and our management team certainly look forward to his contribution."

Meeker also told the Louisville Courier-Journal that "In the last five or six years we have been conscious of our lack of diversity, not only from the standpoint of our company but the industry at large. We have made a concerted effort to increase diversity at all levels, including the board."

Coleman, 52, currently is leading the effort to develop a new arena for the New Jersey Nets of the NBA and the New Jersey Devils of the NHL. Before joining Major League Baseball, he was involved in the banking business and in New Jersey state government.

"It is an honor and a true pleasure to be chosen to help guide the organization behind one of America's greatest sporting events," Coleman said. "As a racing fan and a sports enthusiast, I've long admired the pageantry and tradition of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs. I look forward to working with management and the board to ensure the continued success of these national icons and the success of the racing industry as a whole."

Coleman said he's been a fan of racing since he was a teenager, has attended the last 10 Kentucky Derbies, and owns several horses in partnerships.