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June 4, 2014

New pro soccer team could practice at Woehrle Athletic Complex in Jeffersonville

Jeffersonville owner ‘very impressed’ with premier turf field

JEFFERSONVILLE — A professional soccer team is coming to Louisville, and it may get ready for its matches in Southern Indiana.

Wayne Estopinal, a Jeffersonville architect and owner of the Louisville City Football Club, announced Wednesday that the Orlando City Soccer Club is locating in Louisville, playing its home games at a converted Louisville Slugger Field starting in April.

However, its practice spot is still unconfirmed.

Estopinal said that the team might practice or train on the premier turf field at Woehrle Athletic Complex in Jeffersonville.

“Our coach went out and looked at it last week, and all looks well,” Estopinal said.

Although decisions have not been made on practice venues, he said Woehrle is a good contender.

“We were very impressed,” he said. “It’s a great facility and there’s a strong possibility we’ll be doing some training there.”

The team will choose a place to practice in about a month and a half, Estopinal said.

Woehrle Athletic Complex has a premier turf field, which holds up better to weather and time, that has garnered the attention of other outside teams.

Ricky Romans, director of sports and athletics for Jeffersonville Parks and Recreation, said semi-pro soccer team the Louisville River City Rovers use Woehrle Complex as its home site, and Sellersburg-based semi-pro football team the Indiana Bucks uses the facility for some of its home games.

“So it’s really taking on a whole bigger life for itself than our original intent,” Romans said in a previous article. “So we’re really excited about the facility.”

Louisville will join 16 other teams in the United Soccer League Pro, an affiliate of Major League Soccer.

Orlando City was selected to join the Major League Soccer expansion next year, leaving the minor league team without a home. Estopinal, an avid soccer fan, owned a minority stake in Orlando City and helped bring them to Louisville.

“When the MLS considers expansion in 2020, we want to be a part of that discussion,” he said.

Estopinal said he expects Louisville City to be a big success, but its fanbase could reach out further than the city limits.

“I live in Southern Indiana. I have headquarters in Southern Indiana,” he said. “We’re going to work our butt off to get Southern Indiana people involved.”

President of USL Pro Tim Holt said the time is right to bring professional soccer to Louisville.

“Soccer has changed in this country. The perception’s changed because its the one sport where the supporters are part of the club, a part of the team,” he said, referencing the support group called the Coopers.

The head coach of Louisville City is Ireland-born James O’Connor, who led Orlando City to break almost every record in its league.

“Rest assured, we will be successful,” O’Connor said. “It’s something that I’ve prepared quite a few years for and something I can’t wait to get started.”

Estopinal said that almost 280 season ticket deposits already were made online at the time of the team’s official announcement to locate in Louisville.

Season tickets range from $240 to $420 for 14 to 15 home games, and can be reserved at LouisvilleCityFC.com

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