By Ed Green
P3 Kentucky Editor
Leaders in Louisville are moving forward with an ambitious public-private partnership to develop a $200 million professional soccer stadium and mixed-use business district near the city’s downtown.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and members of the ownership group for the Louisville City FC soccer club Friday announced details for the P3 project. The deal is subject to approval by Louisville Metro Council.
An overview of the deal:
- Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government will invest $30 million to buy 40 acres of property and make infrastructure improvements. The city would own the property and recoup nearly half its investment over the life of the project through sales and rent from land leases as well as stadium rent. The city also can earn an additional $2 million if the stadium exceeds financial targets.
- The owners of Louisville City FC will build a 10,000-seat soccer stadium on 12 to 15 acres of the property, with hopes to eventually bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the city. Louisville FC currently competes in the United Soccer League, the second tier of professional soccer.
- Developers associated with the ownership team plan to create an entertainment-focused business district on the remaining 25 to 28 acres around the stadium. It would include a mix of restaurants, retailers, hotels and potentially office space.
- The city plans to apply to the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority to create a tax-increment financing district on the mostly vacant property where the development would be built. Proceeds from the TIF district would help repay a portion of the city’s investment as well as a portion of the investments in the stadium.
Fischer stressed that no city funds would be used to construct the privately financed stadium and that the city would not have any responsibility to support its operations. The ownership group would collect the revenue from the stadium operations.
“This wouldn’t happen without the ownership group,” Fischer said. “They worked very hard to put together a viable soccer franchise that’s established a fan base while playing in a baseball stadium, during football season in a town known for horse-racing and basketball. Not too bad.”
Mike Mountjoy, a partner in the Louisville FC ownership group and a founding partner of MCM CPAs and Advisors (a P3 Kentucky Roundtable member), said the owners are excited to get started.
“Our board has worked extremely hard on this,” Mountjoy said. “This is a complicated process, but we are there. So we want to thank all of those who have been involved.”
Officials said the agreement requires that construction must start by Jan. 1, 2019, but the Louisville FC partners hope to start next fall and open the stadium in spring 2020.