USL PRO News Release
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. – USL PRO announced today that the franchise rights owned by Orlando City SC have been transferred to Louisville, Kentucky. The Orlando USL PRO franchise will relocate to Louisville, effective for the 2015 season, and will be owned and operated by a group of local investors led by architect Wayne Estopinal, with Orlando City also retaining an ownership share.
As Orlando City FC joins Major League Soccer for the 2015 season, the Louisville USL PRO franchise – Louisville City FC – will serve as the official USL PRO affiliate of Orlando City SC, pending the approval of both USL PRO and MLS.
The Louisville City FC ownership group has been working with the city to finalize an agreement to play at Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Louisville Bats.
“USL PRO is thrilled to welcome Louisville City FC for the 2015 season,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “The beautiful city of Louisville, on the banks of the Ohio River, features a rich collegiate soccer tradition and is destined to become one of the top professional soccer cities in the United States. The distinguished leadership of Wayne Estopinal, combined with the strong and proven mentorship of Phil Rawlins and Adrian Heath from the Orlando City partnership group, provides Louisville City FC with an outstanding professional soccer organization.
“All of us at USL PRO look forward to working with Mayor Greg Fischer, the Louisville City FC ownership, and The Coopers – Louisville’s passionate supporters group – to bring exciting professional soccer to Louisville.”
The Orlando City USL PRO franchise made its debut in the first USL PRO season in 2011, and has enjoyed unprecedented success during the past four seasons. Orlando City captured USL PRO Championships in both 2011 and 2013 while establishing league attendance marks including a record 20,886 at the 2013 championship match.
Orlando City was formally accepted as the 21st MLS franchise on November 19, 2013, and will join MLS for the 2015 season.
“Louisville is a proven sports city,” Estopinal said. “Louisville City will deliver an exciting style and pace of play that continues the Orlando City tradition. Many investors see the future of soccer internationally and domestically, and Louisville City is pleased to be part of USL PRO and looks forward to bringing excitement and fan entertainment value to our city.”
USL PRO features 14 teams in 2014 with expansion franchises in Colorado Springs, Colorado, St. Louis, Missouri and Tulsa, Oklahoma already announced for 2015. For the past several years USL PRO has been part of a groundbreaking partnership with MLS that has further elevated the quality and stature of USL PRO, strengthened the competition in both leagues, and established a solid foundation for future collaboration.