Louisville City FC's Wilson Harris celebrates before a sellout crowd of 14,673 fans at Lynn Family Stadium on Saturday night, the first sellout in the club's history at its world-class venue. | Photo courtesy Connor Cunningham / Louisville City FC
For Louisville City FC’s staff, players, and supporters, it was the sort of night everyone envisioned when the groundbreaking for Lynn Family Stadium occurred four years ago.
A club-record sellout crowd of 14,673 packed the building and kept the rocking atmosphere going for 90 minutes.
Award-winning hip-hop artist Jack Harlow led a pregame chant that rang out around the stands.
And LouCity were in top form on the field – leading the Eastern Conference, vanquishing their closest rivals, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, thanks to a second-half goal by Wilson Harris.
In all, it sent a message to the soccer world that head coach Danny Cruz summed up.
“That game was everything I am proud of here at Louisville City,” he said. “We’ve talked about it before: When we have that type of backing, it pushes our players to be able to get through it. We’re extremely proud of this the night we just had. We’re extremely proud of the players for putting out a fantastic performance. They had a lot of fight.”
At the moment, Louisville City can seem like outliers in the USL landscape. They boast a top-quality team, world-class facilities, and a proud and loyal fanbase.
Louisville City FC's Ray Serrano celebrates with fans after the club's 1-0 victory against Eastern Conference rival the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Lynn Family Stadium. | Photo courtesy Connor Cunningham / Louisville City FC
But before LouCity came on the scene, there was Sacramento Republic FC. They provided the blueprint for clubs on how to build a rabid following that provides a world-class soccer experience and has a positive impact on the community. LouCity followed that blueprint, and made some additions, namely, Lynn Family Stadium, which now serves as the inspiration for new and upcoming venues across the USL landscape.
For example, last Friday, an expansion club in Rhode Island that will join the Championship in 2024 broke ground on a new stadium in Pawtucket. It will join clubs like Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, which opened Weidner Field in 2021, and Monterey Bay F.C., which calls the newly constructed Cardinale Stadium home.
With Republic FC among current Championship clubs preparing to move into new venues in the next few seasons, and expansion clubs like that in Des Moines currently building its home venue ahead of its arrival in the league, nights like that at Lynn Family Stadium on Saturday will become the norm around the Championship.
“Stadium development continues to be a key strength for the USL and our clubs,” said USL Chief Executive Officer Alec Papadakis in a statement on Friday. “We are on track to open 10-15 new soccer venues across the country in the next three years, with more to follow. The USL has entered a new phase in its evolution, bringing world-class soccer experiences to more communities than anyone.”
For the clubs and players at the center of it all, the emotion and passion those fans and venues deliver make nights like Saturday that much more memorable.
“You could feel it on the field. You could feel it in the stands,” said LouCity defender Sean Totsch. “When both those things are good and we’re at home, we don’t feel like anyone can beat us. It doesn’t matter who comes here.
“Nights like tonight, we feel invincible.”