Louisville City FC Study Released

USL Louisville FC

A feasibility study has been released on a new stadium for Louisville City FC, revealing some unsurprising results along the way.

Two key takeaways emerge from the study. Firstly, Louisville City FC is losing money in its current arrangement at Louisville Slugger Field, which calls for the team to pay $5,000 per game in rent while also giving, among other things, concessions and stadium advertising funds to the MiLB’s Louisville Bats.  The study found that the team lost $700,000 last year, and is looking at another operating loss for 2016, despite strong attendance figures in both seasons. (The Courier-Journal has more on this part of the study.)

Perhaps the biggest part of the equation is plans for a new stadium. There has been some discussion about which route Louisville will choose, specifically if it will look at remaining in the USL or building a stadium that could house an MLS team.

Ultimately, the study from Conventions, Sports and Leisure International recommends a 10,000-seat, soccer-specific stadium that would be home to a USL team. Should Louisville desire and eventually obtain an MLS club, the stadium could be expanded to seat around 20,000 fans. This was based on case studies of similar markets.

There will be two issues to watch in this case. Timing will be in play, as Louisville City FC’s agreement at Louisville Slugger Field expires after the 2019 season, necessitating a new stadium by 2020. Another issue will be how Louisville and the team decide to pay for the project. More from the Courier-Journal:

“I look forward to working closely with metro government and metro council members to achieve this goal for us to have our own home and a soccer-specific stadium for us to play in,” [team president Amanda] Duffy said in a video released by the team. “We have an exciting team that’s on top of the standings, we continue to be a part of the top teams in attendance in USL and we ask our fans to continue coming out, bring in friends and family who haven’t been to a game yet and introduce them to the most exciting sport that’s happening in Louisville right now.”

The report also addresses one of the main obstacles to building a stadium: the funding. CSL estimates a new stadium with its recommended specifications would cost between $30 million and $50 million, and the study assumed in its scenarios the city would fund the stadium through 20-year bonds to be repaid by private and public sources. In the comparable stadium projects evaluated in the study, the public sector contributed 44 percent of total project costs on average while the private sector contributed 56 percent towards development.

The study proposes three funding models, all of which rely on a combination of private and public money with varying contribution percentages.

Private funding sources include stadium naming rights, founder’s suites, facility fees and other private contributions, as well as an estimated $100,000 rent paid by Louisville City FC. Public funding sources include tax increment financing, public grants and metro government general funds.

Three different funding scenarios are outlined, all of which call for a private-public partnership on the proposal. A $30 million stadium would be paid for in a 50/50 split, while a $40 or $50 million facility would be a 46% private sector contribution with the rest coming from public sources. Focusing more on the financial end of the project, the study does not offer a specific recommendation on a location for the stadium.

RELATED STORIES: Results of Louisville Study Forthcoming; Louisville City: Too Small for MLS, Too Big for USL?New Louisville City FC stadium in works?; Louisville City FC: Build for USL, expand for MLS

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August Publications