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Bats Discuss Possible Departure of Louisville City FC

Louisville Bats 2016 makeover

With the USL’s Louisville City FC vying for a new facility, the Louisville Bats (Class AAA; International League) are discussing what they would do in the team’s absence. 

Since Louisville City FC began play last year, it has rented Louisville Slugger Field from the Bats. While the soccer club has posted robust attendance figures in back-to-back seasons, its leadership is contending that the franchise’s future is more viable in a soccer-only facility. (This story has received a good deal of coverage on our sister site, Soccer Stadium Digest.)

Part of Louisville City FC’s arrangement with the Bats calls for the team to pay $5,000 per game in rent, plus a portion of the concession revenue generated by soccer matches. This has left some to wonder whether the Bats will take a hit financially if Louisville City FC does indeed move out. While Bats president Gary Ulmer says that the Bats would have to make some adjustments, the financial loss would not be the least bit devastating. More from the Courier-Journal:

Ulmer would not disclose the exact amount of concessions revenue the Bats receive from Louisville City games. But the stadium feasibility study estimated that gross general concessions sales for 19 LCFC games at a soccer-specific stadium would amount to $775,667. Adjusting the number down to 15 games equals a projected $612,368 in concessions revenue. It is important to note that the Bats do not take in the entire gross figure; Ulmer said that the Bats and concessionaire company Centerplate get just one third of the concessions share. That would amount to $204,122.

Add that figure to $75,000 in rent and that’s $279,122 per year going from Louisville City FC to the Bats, parts of which are used to pay for stadium utilities, cleaning, and employee salaries. Ulmer said the rent the Bats receive from Louisville City is meant to help the team break even. In the end, while it may not be a huge chunk of money, the Bats will still need a replacement source to maintain those expenses if the soccer team leaves for a new stadium.

Of course, the Bats could always replace the revenue coming from Louisville City by renting Louisville Slugger Field out for other events. Ulmer said the team’s attempts to book concerts over the past few years have been unsuccessful, so it is likely more sporting events would be needed to fill the gap. The goal is to find an event that could attract attendance numbers equal to or greater than either Louisville City or Bats games.

Through 10 home games in 2016, Louisville City FC’s home attendance averages 7,388. The Bats’ hovers at. 7,092 through 61 home games. But the swarms of soccer fans flocking to Louisville Slugger Field dressed in purple and gold haven’t necessarily overflowed to baseball games. Ulmer said he does not think attendance at LCFC games has increased the Bats’ attendance numbers.

“It’s the opposite, really,” he said. “If you come to a soccer game on Saturday night some percent of folks may say, ‘I won’t go back next Saturday.'”

Louisville City FC’s agreement at Louisville Slugger Field runs through 2019. Unless the team is able to secure a new stadium on a more accelerated schedule, it should give Ulmer and the Bats plenty of time to plot future events at Louisville Slugger Field.

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