Founder of the second-tier soccer club Louisville City, Wayne Estopinal died in a plane crash Friday in southern Indiana. He was 63.
Estopinal was on a plane headed to Chicago when it crashed about 16 miles north of Louisville at about 11:30 a.m. local time, just a few minutes after takeoff from Clark Regional Airport. The craft was registered to a company owned by Estopinal, according to ABC7 in Chicago.
“We at LouCity are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of club founder Wayne Estopinal,” club president Brad Estes said in a statement. “We would not be the club we are today without his innovation, leadership, and hard work, 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, known as an architect who designed the University of Louisville’s Lynn Stadium, was integral in moving a United Soccer League franchise from Orlando, Florida, to Louisville in 2014. The club has gone on to win the second-tier league the past two seasons. He also served as an investor in Orlando City before the club joined Major League Soccer.
Estopinal spearheaded efforts to move the team from Orlando after it was displaced by an MLS franchise. While retaining his minority stake in the Orlando ownership group, Estopinal took charge of the startup Louisville effort.
“He’s responsible for bringing something here in Louisville City FC that has become part of thousands of people’s lives,” former LouCity spokesman Jonathan Lintner said, via the Louisville Courier Journal. “He had left his mark on Louisville and the region even before that, but with that team, that’s a heck of a legacy.”
Estopinal, a 1979 Ball State graduate and Board of Trustee member, also left an impact on the University of Louisville community.
“I am deeply saddened by the news of Wayne’s untimely death,” former University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said. “The Jurich family’s hearts and prayers go out to the Estopinal family. Wayne was instrumental in the development and construction of Lynn Stadium at the University of Louisville. He was incredibly generous and one of the greatest jewels in our community.”