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Louisville’s pro soccer team expects to be playing in 2015; investors still sought

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A rendering of Slugger Field as a soccer venue. Illustration courtesy of the Estopinal Group.

A rendering of Slugger Field as a soccer venue. Illustration courtesy of the Estopinal Group.

The team doesn’t have a name yet, but it does have a home pitch and a head coach, and United Soccer Leagues pro soccer is inches from having a Louisville franchise starting with the 2015 season.

And while the deal isn’t signed and sealed, it appears to be imminent.

At a press conference this morning at Mockingbird Valley Soccer Complex, investor Wayne Estopinal told the media that an agreement is in place with Slugger Field and that there are already 1,500 season ticket commitments — many of whom, no doubt, are members of the Louisville Coopers, a group that has supported Estopinal’s drive to bring professional soccer here.

Wayne Estopinal speaks to the media this morning at Mockingbird Valley.

Wayne Estopinal speaks to the media this morning at Mockingbird Valley.

“We have the opportunity to do something very special here for Louisville,” Estopinal said.

Among his announcements, Estopinal said the team is close to having enough funding to sign the necessary agreements with Louisville, the league and Orlando City, which is the current team that will transfer here (Estopinal is a minority owner in that team). In addition, team representatives have net with AstroTurf to create a pitch, or playing field, that will transform Slugger Field into a soccer venue.

He even envisions a “march to the pitch” prior to games, with fans gathering at nearby bars and restaurants, and then walking in tandem to the stadium — “Drums beating, flags waving and soccer chants blaring,” he said.

“Louisville Slugger Field will be a fantastic home pitch for USL Pro Louisville,” Estopinal added.

The press conference also included renderings of what Slugger Field will look like once transformed. Slugger Field would likely be a temporary home for the team; in the very near future, he said, the investor group will begin talking with the city to plan for a dedicated soccer stadium.

Justin Brown, part of the Marian Development Group, is an investor who spoke to the media as well.

Brown described bringing USL soccer here as “another brush stroke in the painting that is the quality of life in Louisville.”

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Estopinal would not name the Louisville club’s new head coach, but said he is a former professional player who had played in excess of 500 pro games who has played against stars such as Christiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and others.

In addition, the coach will install a 4-2-3-1 formation when practices begin, adding that the coach and his family will be “great ambassadors of the team, great citizens of Louisville and will bring a passion for the game that will infect the entire area.”

And Estopinal urges soccer fans to realize that this won’t be like a typical expansion club. This is an established team that has won its league two of the last three years and sits in first place this season. He estimates many, if not most, of the current players will play in Louisville next season. In addition, the team’s current owner, Orlando Sports Holdings, will continue to have a 10 percent stake in the Louisville team.

“This team is the highest quality we can bring here,” he said.

Investors will continue to be sought for another week or so, with an investment of $25,000 for a full share (half shares are also an option). For those interested in joining the USL Pro Ownership Group, Estopinal urged they contact him this week. Contact information can be found on his company’s website.

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