Fans flock to LouCity stadium opening event



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Louisville City FC stadium opening July 2020 Image: Louisville City FC

Almost 5,000 people – 4,850 to be precise – attended the United Soccer League (USL) Championship team Louisville City FC stadium inauguration event. LouCity opened its new Lynn Family Stadium at Louisville in US on July 12.

Lynn Family Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium in the Butchertown neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, United States. Its primary tenant is Louisville City FC of the USL Championship, and will soon become home to Racing Louisville FC of the National Women’s Soccer League.

The USL Championship (USLC) is a professional men’s soccer league in the United States that began its inaugural season in 2011. The USL is sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer) as a Division II Professional League since 2017, placing it under Major League Soccer (Division I) in the hierarchy.

The stadium can hold 15,304 spectators and was around 30 percent full for Sunday’s match. American professional soccer team Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC spoilt the party by defeating LouCity 3-1. The Riverhounds secured three unanswered goals. A number of guidelines were put in place for the match, which went ahead with fans as the US continues to fight a bitter battle with COVID-19.

The team said the crowd turnout is the largest at a team sporting event in the US since coronavirus bared its fangs. Fans in the stadium kept a good distance from each other and the match went ahead under facility operator ASM Global’s Venue Shield plan.

The club was given the go-ahead by the Government to stage games at 50 percent capacity, with the provisos that temperature checks were taken, masks were worn on the concourse and social distancing was strictly adhered to. The attendance ended up being closer to 30 per cent of the stadium’s maximum capacity.

Six feet, or the equivalent of three empty chairs, was required between family seating pods. Other fans allowed to Sunday’s game were accommodated in clubs or standing room-only supporter zones behind both goals.

Louisville City FC worked with ticketing partner SeatGeek, whose physical distancing software was used to ensure fans were at arm’s length from each other at Lynn Family Stadium.

Work on the venue was completed in March. Louisville City FC had been due to play its first match at the venue on April 11 but had to wait to open the venue due to COVID-19 global outbreak. The new $65m (£51.5m/€57.2m) stadium will also be employed for concerts and events, as well as Louisville’s National Women’s Soccer League franchise, which begins play next year.

Louisville City had been playing at Louisville Slugger Field, home to the Louisville Bats baseball team, since 2015. Work commenced on the new 11,600-seat stadium in June 2018 and was completed on time and on budget by the Messer/Harmon construction team.

Though LouCity bit the dust in their match against the Riverhounds, but the 4,850 fans who turned up came as a huge solace for the USL team.

LouCity midfielder Devon ‘Speedy’ Williams scuffed in the first goal in stadium history, providing the physically distanced, purple-clad fans delirious moments.

Remarked LouCity coach and Sporting Director John Hackworth, “Once we got up a goal, we should have been established and more in control of the game.

We did the opposite. We had turnover after turnover. We played very direct at that point, and consequently we were tired from defending so much.”

The coach added, “One part I know we can fix is, when that happened, we have to have some resolve. We have to have an answer.”

Winning or losing is part of the game. But, the biggest achievement of LouCity was the considerable presence of fans in the midst of the pandemic for their stadium opening event.

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