The best opportunity soccer fans in Mercer County have to enjoy a professional game is the Lexington Sporting Club, which belongs to the United Soccer League, the largest professional soccer organization in the United States. The USL currently has more than 200 club members. USL League One announced in 2017 they would be creating a league that would appeal to cities with populations of 150,000 to one million, giving communities across the country with passionate fans their own team to support, instead of traveling insane distances to watch professional soccer. On Oct. 5, 2021, the city of Lexington was awarded an expansion team by the USL. On March 22, 2022, a name was decided, Lexington Sporting Club. For many years, central Kentucky fans have had to travel to Louisville, Cincinnati or Nashville to watch professional soccer, but as of March 18, Lexington Sporting Club is playing games in what is basically the third level of professional soccer.
The USL’s mission is to create community-backed clubs and tap into markets that can sustain a professional team, as most USL team’s revenues rely heavily on ticket sales. As of now LSC has been playing their home games at Georgetown College’s Toyota Stadium, but they have plans for a 6,500 seater near the intersection of I-75 and Athens Boonesboro Road in Lexington. According to WKYT reporter Jeremy Tombs, club Owner Bill Shively is considering other options for the complex that would include housing, a retail complex, a hotel, a training facility, restaurants and of course one of the largest venues in the Lexington area. Brannon Crossing is another option Shively has expressed interest in building the cities’ first professional soccer team stadium. Either of these options would put the opportunity to watch professional soccer at just a 15-35 minute drive for most Mercer Countians.
Lexington Sporting Club has made its intentions clear since kicking off in March. Their youth academy is the result of the merger of established youth club teams Lexington Football Club and Commonwealth Soccer Club. Apart from creating an exciting atmosphere, Shively wants a community run club. From the kids in the academy to the clubs turnover and potential future growth, this project will go as far as the support it receives from the public.
“Lexington Sporting Club is the community’s club. Our youth club gives kids and coaches the opportunity to learn, compete, and develop. Our professional team provides mentoring and a runway for academy players. And, the professional team is committed to playing great soccer for our fans. We connect people through opportunity and competition – we are a club you can call your own,” is the club’s mission statement.
The Lexington Sporting Club takes on the Richmond Kickers at home starting 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, at Toyota Stadium in Georgetown.