Louisville City FC owners made no bones about their plans to conquer the professional United Soccer League and earn a way into contention for a Major League Soccer Franchise during a news conference Friday.
Speaking at the site of a proposed soccer stadium district, Mike Mountjoy, a member of the Louisville City FC ownership group, said some cities are trying to buy their way into the MLS without first building up a fanbase for major league soccer. Louisville City FC, by contrast, has gradually built up its following and the call for a standalone 10,000-seat soccer stadium that could be expandable to 20,000 seats or more for MLS.
"Our goal is to be the best soccer team in the United States," said Mountjoy, noting the boldness of the statement.
The road toward these lofty aspirations starts with the play on the pitch. The team sits atop the USL's Eastern Conference standings now, but the club has higher aspirations: A USL championship crown for starters.
Another step that must be taken toward this desired soccer supremacy is a standalone soccer stadium. And that got the green light it needed Friday when Mayor Greg Fischer and members of Louisville Metro Council announced plans to allocate $30 million in city funds toward the $200 million proposal. The project would include a $50 million soccer stadium and an adjoining commercial district with one to two hotels, restaurants, retail and potentially hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space. The city money woul fund land acquisition and development, not the stadium itself.
Under the terms of the deal with the city, the ownership group would have to pay the city $14.5 million of the $30 million back over a 20-year period. That money could be generated from leases or sales of parcels of ground where the stadium's commercial district would be built. The city has an option to purchase 40 acres in Butchertown off Adams and Campbell streets near River Road and the Big Four Bridge.
Jeff Mosley, deputy chief of Louisville Forward, the city's economic development agency, said the owners will be on the hook for the full amount, even if some of it must come from their own pockets.