NEWS AND TRIBUNE
The University of Louisville’s soccer program has reached new heights on the field, and a new stadium to match is being designed by Jeffersonville architectural company The Estopinal Group.
Construction on the $15.8 million Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Soccer Stadium started this month, and the stadium will be the first collegiate LEED Certified (Silver) facility in the nation and is designed to be used exclusively for Division 1 soccer, according to a press release.
“There was, from day one, a very strong commitment from U of L athletics that this was going to be a one-sport facility and it was going to be exceptional; I think it’s there,” said Wayne Estopinal, president of the Estopinal Group.
The Estopinal Group has worked collaboratively with the university as the architect for the stadium since 2011 and Abel Construction will build the stadium. It will be located on Floyd Street in the space across from the U of L football practice fields, making it visible from Interstate 65.
Estopinal said a passion for soccer that he and others at the architecture firm have for the sport helped set the group apart when they submitted their plans and helped generate some innovative ideas for the stadium.
“They recognized that, and thought they found their project team, and we’re very pleased to be involved,” he said, referring to U of L.
He outlined some of the elements of the U of L stadium that set the facility apart from other collegiate stadiums. The initial and most obvious difference is the Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Soccer Stadium is designed only for soccer.
The stadium, with a grass field, will offer seating for more than 5,800 fans, with 2,400 chairback seats in the main grandstand and bleacher seating in the east end-zone and two berms for the men’s and women’s soccer teams, according to the release.
And a design element incorporated into many European stadiums to protect fans from the rain was added to the design to protect U of L soccer fans from a different weather element.
“Given our environment here to have the majority of seats covered with a shade canopy huge for this environment,” Estopinal said.
The soccer season starts in the late summer months so for many of the early season games the sun is still up and the heat can be a factor.
“I think we’ll see the crowds building for these successful programs much earlier in the season because of shade,” Estopinal said. “I think you’ll see a really great fan response to this.”
He added the canopy adds another element to the fan and player experience also used in European soccer stadiums.
Estopinal said the covered grandstands helps to project noise on the pitch and the grandstands in Louisville’s new stadium will accomplish the same goal. In addition, designs were sure to keep the focus on the field even when visiting concessions or the facilities in the stadium to keep the fans close to the action — an element lost in the old facility.
“It’s really going to keep the atmosphere focused on the [action],” Estopinal said.
OTHER PERKS, SOCCER PASSION
The soccer stadium will be the second largest on-campus facility behind Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and will feature another unique element. It will include a 15,350-square-foot training center with identical locker rooms for the U of L men’s and women’s teams, coaches offices, a training room, meeting rooms and a player lounge area, as well as a suite and press box situated atop the grandstand at midfield.
“So few programs in the U.S. have these things consolidated,” Estopinal said.
The Estopinal Group also gathered input from Cardinals’ men’s soccer Coach Ken Lolla and women’s Coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes in designing the facility.
“We’re delighted to begin construction on what will be the finest collegiate soccer stadium in the nation,” said Tom Jurich, U of L vice president and director of athletics in the press release. “A lot went in to this project; a lot of thought. A lot of dreams went into it. This is a huge boost for our campus and the regional soccer community.”
The stadium is not the first soccer stadium The Estopinal Group has designed, and Estopinal hopes to have anther facility underway soon. He explained part of his interest in soccer comes from owning Mocking Bird Valley Soccer Club, a large indoor complex, near Zorn Avenue and Interstate 71.
Estopinal also said he is an owner of the Orlando City Soccer Club Lions, that plays in the United Soccer League, but is hoping to join the MLS.
Estopinal said his firm is designing plans for a 17,000-seat stadium in Orlando should the team be able to join the MLS.
— News and Tribune