Professional soccer is coming to Louisville.
That’s the announcement expected todday at a 2 p.m. press conference at Slugger Field, where the team’s home matches would take place. They’ll call the team the Louisville City Football Club.
Investors have been working for several months to move the team from Orlando to Louisville, but concerns arose this t week relating to scheduling.
Wayne Estopinal, a local architect who has spearheaded the move, said he is confident that any scheduling conflicts can be worked out with the Louisville Bats, the primary tenant of Slugger Field, and the announcement this afternoon will be “celebratory.”
The Louisville City Football Club will be a member of United Soccer Leagues PRO division, an affiliate of Major League Soccer comparable to AA baseball, and will play in what Estopinal called a “tough” division of teams from cities like Charlotte, Pittsburgh and Oklahoma City.
He said professional soccer is a good addition to the Louisville sports community.
“It will be a very engaging style of soccer, constant action, great athletes,” he said. “And our team will be engaged in the community at events and these will be players and coaching staff that the community will know and enjoy getting to know.”
He also noted that the current Orlando-based team is a successful one.
Orlando City is in first place in USL PRO and they have won the USL PRO Championship in 2011 and 2013. The team is undefeated this year.
Estopinal said he expects as many as 200 people to attend the press conference. Many of those in attendance will be members of the Louisville Coopers, a fan support group that has shown vigorous support for pro soccer in Louisville.
Taylor Sorrels, president of the Coopers, said the group is ready to move from supporting an idea to supporting an actual team.
He also said this is a great opportunity for Louisville to remain competitive in the growing market of American soccer.
“Soccer is really experiencing rapid growth in the United States, and I think it important that Louisville tries to get in on that early, so that whatever does happen with American soccer in the future, we can be a part of it rather than trying to catch up,” he said.
Estopinal said while the team will be playing at Slugger Field, he is hopeful the city will be able to support the development of a soccer specific stadium by 2018. Some details of that possibility were still being worked out this week.
A game schedule for the soccer team has yet to be released.
We’ll provide more information this afternoon following the announcement.