LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — It's official: A professional soccer team is coming to Lexington!
"It is my pleasure to announce the formal awarding of a franchise in USL League One to the city of Lexington," President of the United Soccer League, Jake Edwards, said from the downtown 5/3 Bank Pavilion.
USL is undergoing a wave of expansion across the country, and beginning in 2023 the league will have a team playing in Lexington, under the leadership of owner, Bill Shively.
"This is going to be twenty years down the road where we’re going to look back and go, 'Wow, if you do it right and get everything done right then things come together and things work,'" Shively said.
Here are just a few of the things Shively is hoping to accomplish: He’d like to build a team training facility, which will double as a youth soccer academy at a location he's already purchased at I-75 near Richmond Road. Then he'll look to convert some land near Rupp Arena into a 6,000-10,000 seat stadium at no cost to the city, county, or state taxpayers.
"Our intention, as they say, is to pay for it ourselves," he replied when asked if taxpayers would be asked to foot the bill.
Shively, who made his name in insurance and horse racing, said a team name has not been picked, but he’s really wanting to get that done soon while involving fans in the process.
"I think naming it is the hardest thing, and talking about (a team) when you don’t have a name doesn’t help much either. So between now and December, we'll do a lot of outreach in the community," he said of coming up with the team’s name, logo, and color scheme.
With Louisville and Cincinnati all within a 60-75 minute drive of Lexington, it's only natural to look at this Lexington situation and dream of the possibilities of an MLS rivalry developing between the three cities within the I-75, 71, and the 64 triangle. Shively said he loves the idea of promoting teams for good play and relegating others for poor play as they do in the English Premier League, but he's not thinking along those lines just yet.
"I hope by the time we really get it fired up that we would be able to look at promotion someday. For now, let's worry about winning," he stated.
The club is launching a survey to hear from the community about what they would want to see in a new venue.
The inaugural season will begin in Spring 2023. Fans interested in placing a deposit on tickets for the 2023-24 season can visit lexingtonprosoccer.com/pages/tickets.