Since it launched play in 2015, Louisville City Football Club – Kentucky’s only professional soccer team – has seen exponential growth in national accolades and fan enthusiasm. To learn more about this unparalleled enterprise and get the latest on the rumors of Louisville City FC’s own stadium, we chatted with spokesman Jonathan Lintner.
What kind of growth has Louisville City FC and professional soccer in general seen in Louisville since launching?
We find there’s a pretty high rate of people who, once we get them out to one game, say they definitely want to come back. Before LouCity, soccer here mostly meant dragging lawn chairs to the edge of a youth field. Showcasing the atmosphere we create for soccer – in a baseball field, no less – has really opened some eyes. Our first Louisville native, duPont Manual grad Richard Ballard, signed this past offseason. Now that kids have a local pro team they can aspire to play for, I don’t think Richard will be our last local star.
What aspects do the fans bring to the club?
Without supporters, there would be no club. Soccer teams and their fans have a unique bond, to a point where the relationship between the two doesn’t mean just getting season tickets and showing up to games (but we really like that part in the front office). Large numbers of fans have social media accounts dedicated to LouCity. They gather to support the local colleges or charitable causes wearing their purple. It’s a great endorsement for our club and makes an impact on newcomers at games.
Are players getting any kind of national recognition?
Our 32-team league, the USL, is a mix of independent clubs like LouCity (that operate without an affiliate) and those that are owned or run by Major League Soccer franchises. We’re proud to note that last year, LouCity advanced to the USL’s Eastern Conference Final – essentially its final four – and was the final independent club left standing. That earned our players plenty of national attention. We’re known for winning and drawing solid crowds.
What does the success about LouCity say about Louisville?
Not that this is news to anyone, but our city really gets behind great local things. And I think it’s safe to say at this point the whole stigma of soccer being a boring game is going away. Our crowds definitely skew toward millennials willing to try new things and families looking for a relatively cheap entertainment option. More and more, we’re also seeing the crowd that engages with the World Cup and international game adopt LouCity as their local club.
What kind of growth do you hope to see LouCity undergo in the next few years?
To add on to the last response, I think our next leap is to show the die-hard UofL and UK fans there’s another team worth backing in their community. I have friends and family who I’ve never been able to attend a game with, aside from a few awkward experiences. There’s just no rooting for the rival. LouCity presents that opportunity, and I liken the tailgating and scene in our stands to a college football game. By the way, mixing red and blue yields purple.
Any exciting goals on the immediate horizon?
Everyone’s always asking about the stadium. It’s a high priority for our ownership to get that plan in place. They work on a weekly basis with the city, and potential locations are being narrowed down. In the meantime, though, we need to continue showing there’s a need for LouCity’s own home by filling Slugger Field. The rest will take care of itself. VT