Back in May of 2015, the United Soccer League (the second division of the American soccer pyramid) announced its ambitious plan to have all its clubs playing in soccer-specific stadiums by 2020. Louisville City FC, currently playing their matches at the Louisville Slugger Field baseball stadium, has fulfilled that requirement after a historic Louisville Metro Council meeting secured the funding needed for a $185 million development project in Butchertown, just east of downtown.
The Metro Council voted 23-2 in favor of a deal that’ll see the city pay for a $30 million bond, eventually rising to $42 million. The owners will foot at least $130 million of the bill and pay back $14.5 million to the city. The project will transform 40 acres into a 10,000-seat stadium, at least one hotel, offices, retail shops and housing.
Of the $30 million the city is now on the hook for, $25 million will go toward purchasing the land and $5 million will go toward developing infrastructure in Butchertown. None of it will go toward building the stadium, which will be completely funded by investors.
According to a study from Louisville City FC, the development could generate in upwards of $13 million a year in tax revenue and create roughly 2,500 jobs each year, yielding $1.8 billion in labor income and over $260 million in state and local tax revenue over 20 years.
Additional legislation says that Louisville City FC will pay its employees at least $12 an hour and employees hired to work within the stadium must be paid at least $10 an hour.
“I’m pleased that the Metro Council voted to approve this public-private partnership that takes an underused, very visible swath of land and creates a vibrant new soccer stadium district that builds on the city’s momentum and creates over 1,700 jobs,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “This is a smart opportunity, and when smart opportunities to move our city forward come up, we grab them.”
Louisville City FC are currently enjoying a fine season in USL. The club finished atop the Eastern Conference while attracting, on average, 8,613 spectators per match, the third-best average in the league behind FC Cincinnati and Sacramento Republic FC.
They play Rochester Rhinos in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday at Louisville Slugger Field. According to the local investors who started Louisville City FC, the plan is to make the club the best in the USL and eventually expand the stadium while making a push for MLS. “This is the one opportunity we have in this community to have major league sports,” says investor Mike Mountyjoy.