The National Women’s Soccer League is expanding to Kentucky.
The seven-year-old league announced Tuesday that Louisville will become it’s fourth expansion team and 10th overall. Louisville will begin play in the 2021 season at Lynn Family Stadium, the soccer-specific venue with a capacity of nearly 14,000 scheduled to open next spring.
The expansion team became sixth NWSL club to affiliate with a men’s pro team. Soccer Holdings, LLC, the ownership group of Louisville City FC will operate the NWSL team using the existing management group, headed by Louisville City club president Brad Estes. Louisville City won USL Championship titles in 2017 and 2018.
“We are very excited to welcome John Neace and Louisville City FC into the NWSL,” NWSL president Amanda Duffy said. “With the club’s growing, passionate fanbase, coupled with its strong ownership group, and its significant investment in a soccer specific stadium in a downtown location, we are thrilled to bring the highest level of women’s professional soccer to the area.”
The expansion marks the first time the city of Louisville has had a top-tier pro sports team since the Kentucky Colonels of the now-defunct American Basketball Association ceased operations in 1976.
The NWSL and women’s professional soccer is seeing unprecedented interest. Earlier this year, the U.S. women’s national team captured its record fourth Women’s World Cup. The league will crown its seventh league champion when the North Carolina Courage meet the Chicago Red Stars in the NWSL final Sunday 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN). Earlier this week, NWSL announced a multi-tier consulting partnership with Octagon’s Global Media Rights Consulting and Marketing.
“We are incredibly honored to be joining NWSL, the greatest women’s soccer league in the world,” Estes said. “We can’t wait to welcome these incredible athletes with open arms and support them in their mission to win championships. This market is hungry for more pro soccer, and we know our NWSL team will be a shining star in this league and in our community.”
Added John Neace, chairman of Soccer Holdings, LLC: “As an owner, we jumped at the chance to join this exciting league. The athleticism in the NWSL is second to none while attendance is growing. This is a sound business decision as we complete the new soccer-only stadium and expand the entertainment district around it.”
Soccer Holdings will announce the team’s logo, crest and colors later this year. The NWSL expansion draft for the 2021 season will be held near the end of 2020. Louisville will start an international search for a top-level coach and technical staff before bringing in players.