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Offsides! Future Home Of Soccer Team Under Question


Officials with Louisville's professional soccer team are kicking back at speculation the team may head north to Indiana.

An emailed statement from the club's spokesman Wednesday sought to calm the alarm set off by a reportfrom Insider Louisville earlier this week, in which it was uncovered that the team's chairman was holding court with city officials in New Albany to discuss the potential of constructing a soccer stadium in the southern Indiana city.

Jeff Gahan, the mayor of New Albany, toldInsider Louisville he met with John Neace, board chairman of Louisville City FC, to propose potential sites for a stadium.

Neace said potential stadium sites have been narrowed to two "Louisville-area locations," according to the report. He did not offer specifics.

A soccer club spokesman, Jonathan Lintner, said Neace has had no "formal meeting" with officials in New Albany.

"He lives in southern Indiana and does a lot of business there, however, and the subject may have come up," Lintner said.

The meeting, coupled with the ambiguous language from Neace, prompted team officials to issue a statement pledging priority to Louisville.

"While other markets around the region have expressed interest, construction of a venue in Louisville is our priority. We plan to be part of the city’s growth and feel that a stadium in its urban core is best for our fan base and the club’s continued success," the statement read.

And in a follow-up statement, Lintner, club spokesman, said the board "is committed to getting the stadium deal done in Louisville."

It's no secret the team is in the market for a stadium. Just where it'll be, however, remains a mystery to the public. The team plays home games at Louisville Slugger Field, its done so since coming to the city for the 2015 season. The arrangement, however, is ill-fated and costly for the soccer club.

A $75,000 studyconducted by the firm Convention, Sports and Leisure backed that up.

It found the deal allowing the soccer team to play home games at the baseball stadium leads Louisville City FC to incur a "sizeable operating loss" and limits the team’s ability to schedule home matches, which “results in higher than normal game-day costs due to the conversion of the field between baseball and soccer.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer in August said "sharing fields is not sustainable."

The team netted a $700,000 loss during its inaugural 2015 season, according to the study.

That loss came despite the team’s ability to draw the league’s second-highest game attendance average, the study found. The report goes on to say that a stadium is critical if Louisville wants to one day become a member of Major League Soccer.

Fischer has championed the construction of a soccer-specific stadium. In the study, paid for by taxpayers, analysts found the future of professional soccer in Louisville depends on such a stadium.

A stadium would likely cost between $30 million and $50 million, and would be dependent on an element of public funding, according to the study.

Public support could come from tax increment financing, public grants or federal tax credits.

The study outlines a series of hypothetical funding plans, which include up to $18 million of the construction cost coming from the city’s general fund.

The analysts stressed that the more private investments the stadium gets, the higher its chance for long-term sustainability.

Jacob Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.