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  • Writer's pictureBenton

Champions Park Training Facility Groundbreaking

Tomorrow is a big day for both Louisville City and Racing Louisville! At 1:00 PM, Soccer Holdings LLC will have the ground breaking for the new training facility at Champions Park. This facility will be within 2 miles of Lynn Family Stadium and will boast 3 natural grass fields and 4 turf fields with stadium lighting. It will also have additional locker space for the pro teams, a gym, kitchen, dining hall, media room, and space for the front office staff to work. In June, John Hackworth said: “This new training facility is yet another example of the commitment of our Club to invest in our professional teams, youth academy and the Louisville community as a whole. Housing all these programs in a state-of-the-art facility will continue to strengthen our belief in becoming one of the preeminent clubs in the U.S.”

Coach Hackworth is spot on. This is such a big moment for our local clubs. Not only do we have the newest playing venue in the country (at least that I am aware of) but we will now have the training setup to go with it. It is big commitments like this that help to attract talent. Much like Coach Cal and Coach Mack, we can’t rely on our historic success alone. Top players across the USL and NWSL will take notice of these moves. Supportive ownership with a winning mentality goes a long way with getting the right pieces into the club. Trust me, I’ve seen the opposite with my Cincinnati Bengals. I am excited to see this project develop and become a reality. This is how we set ourselves apart.

This is not only great news for the Lou City and Racing pro squads but also for the academy. I am a HUGE advocate of the academy. I do not think many realize how important that will be for the clubs long term. The academy provides our local youth a pathway to the pros. Remember growing up how little attention soccer go at a professional level? It’s a totally different landscape now where there is a more clear and promising future in the sport for young promising athletes. This venue is going to greatly support that cause. There is plenty of space to field multiple side simultaneously. The academy will not get relegated to an afterthought due to the first teams needing the fields.

My hope, and I know that this is a big ask of the club, is that we become the Ajax of the US. Ajax consistently produce some of the top talent in the world. The Dutch have figured out how to turn the club into a soccer factory. Every year they are exporting their talent to the biggest clubs in the world. Players that the likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool would love to have in their starting eleven. While there are MLS sides with greater resources who may strive to be the Barcelona or Manchester United academies of the country, I can really see our club being the Ajax punching well above its weight class and producing top talent. And when other kids see the bright futures ahead of their older peers in our setup, it will attract them to us. Success breeding success. Best in class facilities will help to make that happen.

Although an Ajax comparison for our clubs is lofty, I really think it is achievable. Other USL clubs are getting overseas partnerships with their youth setups (Hartford recently announced a partnership with Southampton) but I really don’t think we need that to succeed. I believe in the pieces that we already have in place. Swapping of best practices would never hurt though. I am excited to see the future of this new training venue and how it helps our teams to maintain (or in Racing case start) their winning ways.

Big thanks to the club for providing me the info and the renderings!

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