The United Soccer League, the third-division professional soccer league in which the local team plays, announced Friday it had struck a new partnership with ESPN. The agreement calls for the broadcast of 20 regular season games on ESPN3 and the 2016 USL Championship on an over-the-air ESPN channel.
LouCity FC President Amanda Duffy told IL via email that Wednesday’s broadcast would help the local team and the league garner more fans.
“This is a great opportunity for both the club and the league to showcase the talent of players and each club’s fan culture to a broader audience on a local and national stage,” Duffy said.
“Our fans work hard to create a unique game day experience and we’re excited to have this platform to continue building awareness and support for Louisville City.”
So far, only the first six matches of ESPN’s coverage of the USL have been announced. The USL said the remaining matches will be announced as the season progresses to determine which teams battle for the playoffs.
Louisville City FC is playing its second season in the USL. It reached the USL’s Eastern Conference Finals last year. The club, which has been playing at Slugger Field, home of the Louisville Bats, averaged about 6,700 spectators last year, more than any other club in the league except one, according to the team.
Club officials have said the lack of a soccer-specific stadium is hampering the team’s ability to generate revenues through concessions and advertising. Louisville Metro Government has agreed to pay $75,000 to study the feasibility of constructing a new 8,000- to 10,000-seat stadium in four potential areas, including downtown. The stadium is to be expandable to about 20,000 seats, to keep alive the club owners’ hopes to run a Major League Soccer club in Louisville. Club and city officials have declined to say how much the stadium would cost and who would pay. Similar stadiums around the country have cost from $13 million to $35 million.
Louisville City FC on Friday also announced that it had landed a new corporate partner, the local brewpub Against the Grain, where many of the fans congregate for matches. The terms of the agreement were not announced per club policy, but the pub will provide players with a post-game meal after matches at Slugger.
Meanwhile, the club’s athletic success is continuing: LouCity FC is in first place in the Eastern Conference, having won four matches and losing just one. The New York Red Bulls II, the team that beat LouCity FC April 2, trails the local local club by 1 point. FC Cincinnati is two points behind NY.
LouCity has the conference’s best offense, with 11 goals, but also is tied for the second-worst defense, having conceded seven.