Louisville City founder Wayne Estopinal dies in plane crash

Wayne Estopinal, who launched Louisville City, one of the USL's most successful teams, and played a huge role as a soccer backer in the city of Louisville, died Friday in a plane crash.

Estopinal, 63, was one of three fatalities in the crash of a private plane bound for Chicago shortly after takeoff from Clark Regional Airport in southern Indiana.

“We would not be the club we are today without his innovation, leadership and hard work,” Louisville City president Brad Estes said in a statement, “and his contributions to the community are something for which we are incredibly grateful. Our hearts are with Wayne’s family and loved ones at this time.”

Estopinal was a minority owner of the USL's Orlando City when it joined MLS. It led to efforts to move the USL team to Louisville in 2015. Estopinal served as Lou City chairman, bringing James O’Connor, a former Orlando City player, to serve as coach, and and he ran the team until 2016 when he took on a lesser role with the team.

Estopinal, president of TEG Architects in Louisville, was an architect who specialized in healthcare construction, but he had a great interest in soccer projects. He designed the University of Louisville’s Lynn Stadium, where Louisville City hosted the recent USL Cup final in which it beat the Phoenix Rising, 1-0, for its second straight league title.

Louisville City plays at Louisville Slugger Field, a minor-league baseball stadium, but has won approval for the construction of a $65 million soccer stadium in the Butchertown section of Louisville. Work on the 11,000-seat stadium began this week.

Estopinal also patented the retractable pitcher’s mound for transitioning from baseball to soccer at Louisville Slugger Field. A second mound was just installed at the baseball stadium in which the new USL team, the El Paso Locomotive, will play.

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