The owners of Louisville’s professional indoor soccer team are hoping to bring an outdoor team to the city.
Louisville Lightning co-owner Ted Nichols says attendance at games has been high, and it’s a sign that soccer has potential in Louisville. U of L was last year’s national runner-up in men’s soccer, and more than 40,000 people attended a 2004 women’s national team game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Nichols says the next step is to establish an outdoor team in the United Soccer League. USL is a tier below Major League Soccer, but Nichols says it’s an early step toward attracting a major league team.
“We absolutely have a motivation and desire and a passion to bring professional outdoor soccer to the city of Louisville, not only for the fans,” he says “but quite frankly we are producing some high level talent amongst the men and women in the city of Louisville.”
MLS vice president Dan Courtemanche says Louisville is not in the running for a new team soon, but could support a team in the future.
“So Louisville could certainly support, at least on an event basis, you know soccer at a high level,” says Courtemanche “so clearly we would have to conduct more research on the market, but at least on the surface it would be one that could be under consideration for sometime beyond that 20th team.”
MLS is currently expanding to 20 teams with additions Montreal in 2012 and possibly New York City shortly after that. Courtemanche says Louisville is comparable to Salt Lake City, which has a successful MLS franchise.
Nichols’ partner Wayne Estopinal recently invested in Orlando City, a USL team in Orlando, Florida.