LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Jeffersonville landmark is getting a helping hand from a hometown boy as the founder of Papa John's Pizza, John Schnatter, is taking a big bite out of the chunk of money still needed to save the Nachand Fieldhouse.

Schnatter grew up in Jeffersonville and made his first pizzas at his dad's tavern here. Now he's giving back to a place helping kids growing up there now: the Nachand Fieldhouse.

"For some time now I've wanted to do something nice for my hometown community, and we couldn't find it," Schnatter said. "Then this opportunity came up and really touched my heart."

He wrote a check for $800,000 to help save the 80-year-old building. It was once home to high school basketball, and is now a community center, but it needs a lot of work to stay open. This gift gets the effort to save it within striking distance of its $1.8 million goal -- and it will now bear Schnatter's name. 

"The John Schnatter Nachan Fieldhouse is a very special place for young and old, but for kids who don't have a lot of opportunity and privileges that some others have, this fieldhouse is a haven for them," said Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore.

"I think my dad would really appreciate this is all about youth," Schnatter said. "There's a section of town that's not really prestigious, and my dad always bought all the kids ball bats and gloves. He was all about youth and this center is all about youth and Mike and I are extremely excited."

The fieldhouse needs air conditioning, new electric and lighting systems and other updates to stay open, making sure local kids continue making memories there.  

"When I was 15 we watched Mr. Basketball, Mike Flynn, play here," Schnatter said. "And to know that we're going to bring it back to light and take care of our youth is a real blessing. "

The effort to Save the Fieldhouse still hopes to raise more than $450,000 to reach its goal. 

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