It looks like packing the house at Slugger Field repeatedly has gotten the attention of city officials, and now Greg Fischer is looking at sites for a new soccer stadium that would also serve as a spot to attract tournaments for all ages. And Mary Ellen Wiederwohl, this week’s Rusty Satellite Show guest, has a new assignment at Louisville Forward. Here’s the news from the Mayor’s office.
LOUISVILLE (September 30, 2015) – Mayor Greg Fischer has asked the staff of Louisville Forward to begin working on plans to enhance the city’s current professional league soccer franchise while also exploring the potential to pursue a major league soccer franchise.
The city will work closely with the Louisville City FC ownership team as well as other tourism, economic development and athletic organizations to understand the public and private financial commitments needed for these efforts.
The city also will explore retaining consultants to help identify potential locations for a soccer stadium, as well as financing possibilities. In addition, the work would find potential locations for a multi-purpose athletic field complex that could serve as a soccer academy for a potential major league team, while also drawing sports tournaments – for soccer, lacrosse, baseball and softball – to the city and leading to increased sports tourism.
“We’re playing to win,” Fischer said, “and we’re dreaming big. But we have much work to do and funding sources to find.”
The move comes as Louisville City FC competes in the United Soccer League’s Eastern Conference Semifinal match this weekend, as the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 playoff seed. In its inaugural season, the professional minor league team – playing at Slugger Field under a lease agreement with the Louisville Bats – drew an average of more than 6,500 fans per game.
“I urged fans to attend the playoff game this Saturday night. A sellout, packed stadium — that’s the best way to show tremendous support for professional soccer in Louisville,” Fischer said.
Louisville’s current professional team is a member of the United Soccer League, the third division of professional soccer. Major League Soccer is a professional league based in New York that has announced plans for expansion.
The Mayor has asked Louisville Forward to present its plan to him and his senior leadership team by the end of the year.
“The USL has clear and distinct goals for its future, anchored by a commitment to have U.S. Soccer Development Academy programs operated by each USL franchise by 2017, and for all USL clubs to be playing in their own soccer-specific stadiums by 2020,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “These goals highlight our commitment to being one of the most admired leagues in the world, committed to excellence on and off the field.”