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Lexington inks deal for $1 million in incentives for private youth soccer fields

Lexington Sporting Club’s new stadium on Athens Boonesboro Road will be home not only to the existing men’s team in USL League One but to a new USL Super League women’s professional team. The new stadium will be the centerpiece of the team’s practice facility, which also houses its youth soccer program.

Lexington Sporting Cub will likely receive $1 million in local money to help pay for infrastructure costs to develop at least seven youth soccer fields on Athens Boonesboro Road for a private soccer club.

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council gave initial approval Tuesday to an agreement between the city and Lexington Sporting Club for the $1 million in local incentives.

The council will likely give final approval to the deal in June.

As part of the deal, Lexington Sporting Club must have five full-time people employed at the site, which is currently under construction. The average salary for those people will be $35,000 per year for 10 years.

The money will go toward streets, drainage and other infrastructure improvements, said Kevin Atkins, chief development officer for the city.

The council allocated $1 million for youth sports fields last year. At the time, council members did not identify who the $1 million was for.

During those 2022 discussions, some council members expressed reservations about allocating that money unless the fields were open to the public.

Even though the fields are not public, there are more than 1,400 kids who play with Lexington Sporting Club, said Atkins.

Vince Gabbert, president for Lexington Sporting Club, said the sports fields will host tournaments, which will bring much-needed tourism dollars to the area.

“The investment on just the sports fields portion is $20 million,” Gabbert said.

In addition to the city’s incentives, Lexington Sporting Club also received approval for Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act incentives, which includes rebates on sales tax refunds on building and other costs.

The youth sports fields were approved in September 2022. There may be up to 13 sports fields built.

In addition, Lexington Sporting Club is also looking for a new home for a soccer stadium. The council gave final approval for a new 6,000-seat stadium at a parcel adjacent to the youth soccer fields near Interstate 75 in April. The Athens Boonesboro Road site was selected after two previous sites were scuttled for various reasons.

At the same time, the professional soccer club is looking at land in south Jessamine County near the Fayette County line. They are also pursuing tax increment financing, or TIF, for that project in Jessamine County. TIF allows developers to recoup costs for infrastructure, such as construction of parking garages, from new taxes generated from the project.

Gabbert said Tuesday the group has not decided if it will choose Jessamine or Fayette county for its stadium.

“The $1 million is only for the youth soccer fields,” Gabbert said.