The USL, Louisville City FC's league, on Thursday announced a partnership with global architecture firm HOK in an effort to secure soccer-specific stadiums for each of its 24 franchises by 2020.
Of course, HOK's services won't likely be needed in Louisville. Majority Louisville City FC owner Wayne Estopinal is an architect whose firm designed the University of Louisville's new Lynn Stadium, seen as one of college soccer's best facilities.
But a team that opened its inaugural season playing at Louisville Slugger Field still has "a lot of work to do" to meet the USL's stadium mandate by the end of the decade, Estopinal said Thursday.
Owners have had preliminary discussions about sites and designs, but work hasn't progressed yet beyond concepts. For now, Louisville City FC shares Slugger with the Louisville Bats, working around the Triple-A baseball slate to schedule games.
"I'm pleased to see that the league has partnered with someone to help other teams look at this, because obviously, the built-in environment of a stadium really helps the experience for the fans and the players," Estopinal said.
Added USL president Jake Edwards: "These venues will serve as cultural hubs and bring fans together in support of the clubs while offering state-of-the-art amenities and an unparalleled game-day experience."
Local government allocated $581,000 to support construction of a locker room at Louisville Slugger Field. A whole new facility would require a much larger investment.
Through four games, though, Louisville City FC has drawn well, averaging 5,146 fans to sit near the top of the USL in attendance. It's up to the club, Estopinal said, to prove to the city by drawing crowds it deserves public funding for its own stadium.
"That is part of the agreement with the city," Estopinal said. "Whether this is a private endeavor or a private-public endeavor, we don't really know yet."