There’s little chance a soccer stadium will be built on the vast, empty plot of land just west of downtown near 12th Street and the Ohio River. But there’s a good chance it’ll one day be a park.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer joined local sewer district officials, state leaders and others Monday afternoon to announce an advancement in the plans for expanding Waterfront Park westward.

The Metropolitan Sewer District will gift the needed land for the expansion to the Waterfront Development Corporation after work is completed to install a large tunnel beneath the site, said Brian Bingham, chief of operations for the sewer district.

The tunnel is an element which will assist the sewer district in complying with a federal consent decree. The land will help the Waterfront Development Corporation act on a long wanted plan to expand the park westward to 13th Street.

Courtesy Waterfront Development Corporation

Phase IV is a 22-acre site located west of 9th Street between the floodwall and the Ohio River.

The fourth phase of Waterfront Park would see the park move along the Ohio River towards 13th Street beneath the raised Interstate 64. Currently, the land is blocked from nearby neighborhoods by a concrete flood wall and the ground is pocked with rusted metal, broken glass and gravel.

Fischer called for applause when he announced the plan at a news conference at the site. He called the park’s expansion a critical element in strengthening neighborhoods in Louisville.

“Waterfront Park has transformed to be the front yard of our community,” he said.

The entire expansion is expected to cost about $35 million, Fischer said.

Fischer said he expects the city and the Louisville Metro Council will “be a lead investor” along with support from state and federal agencies and local foundations.

“We’ll need that assistance,” he said.

The sewer district is expected to begin work on the tunnel at the end of this year. That project will take about three years, said Bingham.

It’s not clear at all when the expansion will be completed, said Mike Kimmel, vice president of the Waterfront Development Corporation.

“It could be anywhere from six years to beyond,” Kimmel said.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.