louisville-city-fc-logo 600xx2373-1582-14-0City leaders are getting serious about a new soccer stadium – and their pursuit of a Major League Soccer franchise.

Louisville Metro Government has agreed to pay $75,000 to determine the feasibility of constructing a new 8,000- to 10,000-seat stadium in four potential areas, including downtown Louisville. The stadium is to be expandable to about 20,000 seats.

Louisville City FC, which has been playing at Slugger Field, home of the Louisville Bats, enjoyed good crowds in its first season, averaging just under 6,500 paid spectators, according to the team.

In response to that success, the city said last fall it was exploring expansion plans, a possible new stadium, and attracting a Major League Soccer franchise. Louisville City FC plays in the third division, the United Soccer League.

The city announced the feasibility study Wednesday evening.

Louisville City FC said on its website that the study is a “major step” and would send a clear message to Major League Soccer, which plans to add up to eight new teams.

Minneapolis-based Conventions, Sports & Leisure International “will provide insight into the physical, operational and financial characteristics for a new stadium,” according to the release.

“Professional soccer is off to a great start in Louisville, and a new soccer stadium could have many positive impacts on our economy,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in the release. “This new investment in soccer will contribute to our authentic and vibrant community and give citizens one central team to rally around.”

Kent Oyler, president and CEO of Greater Louisville Inc., said “having multiple high-energy spectator sports like Louisville City FC helps with talent attraction and retention.”

Local employers have said they are struggling to attract and retain highly qualified workers.

Amanda Duffy, president of the soccer club, said the city is taking a significant step toward bringing a soccer stadium to Louisville.

“By engaging Conventions, Sports & Leisure International to deliver a recommended direction for a stadium location, as well as a path for project funding, illustrates the decisive action that we’re all taking to achieve the goal of bringing the highest level of professional sports to Kentucky and Southern Indiana,” Duffy said.

The release also said the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau plans to consider a separate feasibility study concerning an amateur and youth sports complex that could accommodate sports including soccer, lacrosse and field hockey.

Convention, Sports & Leisure International is working with Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development department.

The contract, which was signed Wednesday, requires the company to fulfill tasks including a market demand analysis, an economic and fiscal impact analysis, and cost estimates.

The city and company have not yet agreed on a timeline but plan to do so in an initial meeting, which could take place in early February, according to Jeff Mosley, deputy director of Louisville Forward.

“There is a sense of urgency to get this done,” Mosley told IL.

He said the city chose Convention, Sports & Leisure International in part because of the company’s size and experience.

“We expect a timely turnaround,” Mosley said.