LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A professional soccer team will likely move to Louisville as long as final agreements fall into place, the head of an investment group working to relocate the team said Thursday.
Wayne Estopinal, a Jeffersonville architect, said he expects to make an announcement in the first week of June about the team, which would be affiliated with a new Major League Soccer franchise in Orlando, Florida.
Mayor Greg Fischer proposed using $581,000 to convert Louisville Slugger Field for a soccer team as part of the budget recommendations he made Thursday.
"We have been working with a group of investors who plan to bring a professional team to Louisville," Fischer told Metro Council members, adding that the team would be "a significant new quality of life addition to our city."
The Slugger Field improvements would be part of a $20 million worth of additional borrowing the city would take on for purchases ranging from new police vehicles to electric public transit buses.
Marianne Butler, a Democrat who chairs the council's budget committee, said she expected members to approve the Slugger Field money even before getting a firm commitment from the investment group.
"It looks like we're going to get a team, so we need to be ready when they're ready to move here," Butler said.
The spending would pay for artificial turf that would cover the dirt base paths on the infield, as well as a locker room and a game-day office beyond left field, Estopinal said.
The United Soccer Leagues team would play 16 home games and one or two exhibition games, which could bring in Major League Soccer teams or international clubs, he said.
Local soccer fans said it was great news for the city.
"It's obviously the most popular sport in the world, and I think it's important to be a part of it," said Taylor Sorrels, who leads a group of soccer supporters called the Louisville Coopers.
The group has already received pledges from 1,700 people about buying season tickets for the new team, Sorrels said.
The council has scheduled a budget vote for June 19.
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