We end 2016 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Soccer Stadium Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #8: Louisville City FC seeks a new stadium.
It has been a productive year for Louisville City FC, and even bigger things may be on the horizon.
The franchise is healthy on the pitch, making the USL conference finals for the second straight year, and at the box office, averaging second highest attendance in the USL with over 7,200 per game. They also set a franchise record for single game attendance with over 10,000 fans attending a June match against FC Cincinnati.
The major limitation for the franchise, however, has been its venue. They share Louisville Slugger Field with the Louisville Bats, the Cincinnati Reds Triple-A affiliate. The arrangement is expensive for the club, and limits potential revenue streams.
This year, though, the city and club have begun exploring a new stadium project – a potential cornerstone for the club’s future in Louisville.
The biggest development was a study commissioned by the mayor’s office and the City of Louisville to explore potential locations and financing options.
The study, completed in August by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International, recommended a 10,000 seat soccer-specific stadium that could be expanded to 20,000 should the club become a future MLS franchise. Estimated cost of the project would be $30-$50 million, which the study recommends could be achieved with one of several public/private financing partnership plans.
The study did not recommend a specific location for the stadium, though several options have been proposed, and it also noted timing as an issue (the current lease is up in 2019, and USL has asked its franchises to have their own stadiums by 2020). Thought the new stadium has a long ways to go, all parties agree that the study was a positive step in the future partnership between the city and club.
Louisville City FC also made news this year with a change in leadership, with Chairman Wayne Estopinal stepping down in favor of local venture capitalist John Neace. Neace is expected lead the charge going forward as they seek to hash out the stadium deal.
Though Louisville is not among the current 10 finalists for MLS expansion (and before the announcement, we put its odds at 50-1 in our December update), this year it made significant strides. If things continue to progress on the stadium front, its future will be even brighter.
Image courtesy Louisville City FC.
Previously in our Top Ten Stories of 2016 List:
#9: Charlotte Pushes for the MLS