Pro soccer team owners and president have been in discussions with the mayor’s office on a United Soccer League (USL) Pro Division club calling Louisville home. Wayne Estopinal, an architect with minority ownership in the Orlando City Soccer Club, has met with Mayor Greg Fischer to discuss the possibilities for the city and a pro soccer club.
When Estopinal met with Fischer on Jan. 14, Orlando team president Phil Rawlins and chairman John Bonner joined the meeting in assessing Louisville as a possible host city, according to the Courier-Journal.
“We’ve gotten into the details, and it’s a fairly complex situation right now,” Estopinal said to the Courier-Journal.
While the USL has already passed a vote approving of Louisville if Orlando City decides upon it, discussions of fielding a USL team in Louisville have taken longer. Estopinal designed a mock-up of city-owned Slugger Field turned into soccer field to present to the city.
The new soccer stadium under construction for the U of L Cardinals, which Estopinal’s firm designed, is too small to host a USL pro team. The Cardinals’ stadium will seat 5,300 people.
“I’m sure there are other cities that would love to get the franchise, but I will say I’m the only other owner of the team — of Orlando City — that lives outside the Orlando area but in the U.S.,” Estopinal said to the Courier-Journal. Estopinal’s ownership in Orlando City has promoted Louisville to a major option for the franchise’s USL Pro Club.
Orlando City plans to expand to the MLS in 2015, so as the franchise looks to relocate the USL pro team, the relocated team would then become an affiliate of its Orlando MLS parent team.
With six past University of Louisville players competing in the MLS and the success of sports in the city, the question remains of whether the stadium lights of a pro soccer club will shine in river city.