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Louisville sports teams explained

From the Louisville Cardinals to Racing Louisville, we’re sharing all details of Derby City’s sports teams.

Bright red cardinal bird mascot wearing a No.1 white basketball jersey high fives a man on the basketball court.

Originally, the cardinal mascot was just a black bird head with a yellow beak.

Photo by Louisville Athletics

Table of Contents

Whether you’re a fanatic — or just look good in Cardinal red — when it comes to sports, Louisville has no shortage of teams to support. Our city is home to some of the most loyal fans in the country.

In this guide, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about Derby City sports — and it doesn’t matter if you’re a devoted fan or new to the arena.

Peyton Siva lifts the National Championship trophy in 2013 for the Louisville Cardinals men's basketball team.

Louisville won its third National Championship in 2013.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Louisville Cardinals Basketball (NCAA) | Est. 1912

Louisville loves college basketball, and the historic success of the Louisville Cardinals basketball programs is a big reason why. Both the men’s and women’s teams compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Where they play: KFC Yum! Center

  • Max Capacity: 22,090
  • Has hosted musical artists like Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Elton John, and Paul McCartney.

Mascot: Louie the Cardinal

  • UofL adopted Kentucky’s state bird as its mascot thanks to a suggestion from the wife of Liberal Arts Dean John Patterson in 1913.
  • Louie acquired a toothy grin in the late 1970s.

Team colors: Red + black

Major accomplishments:

  • The men’s team has won three National Championships (1980, 1986, 2013) and has been to 10 NCAA Tournament Final Fours.
  • The women’s team has been to four NCAA Tournament Final Fours, and has finished as the runners-up twice (2009, 2013).
  • Louisville is one of ten schools to send both its men’s and women’s basketball teams to the Final Four in the same season, doing so in 2013.

Louisville Cardinals Football (NCAA) | Est. 1912

Historically overshadowed by the Cards basketball teams, the Louisville football program has grown leaps and bounds over the decades — all the way to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Louisville-native and former Cardinal quarterback Jeff Brohm is the head coach.

Where they play: L&N Stadium

  • Max Capacity: 60,500
  • Opened in 1998, and expanded twice
  • Has hosted NSYNC, U2 and Kenny Chesney concerts

Mascot: Louie the Cardinal

  • First recorded sighting of Louie on the field was in 1953.
  • The original Louie costume was made of papier-mâché.

Team colors: Red + black

Major accomplishments:

  • Louisville has won 12 bowl games, including two of the most prestigious: the Orange Bowl in 2006 and the Sugar Bowl in 2013.
  • Lamar Jackson won Louisville’s first Heisman Trophy in 2016.
  • The Cards appeared in their first ACC Championship Game in 2023.
image3

Racing Louisville won The Women’s Cup in 2021.

Photo provided by Racing Louisville

Racing Louisville FC (NWSL) | Est. 2019

In October 2019, Racing Louisville FC became the first pro sports team from a major league circuit to come to Louisville in 40+ years. They compete in the National Women’s Soccer League, the top women’s soccer league in the US, and are coached by Beverly Yanez.

Where they play: Lynn Family Stadium

  • Max Capacity: 15,304
  • Opened in 2020, the stadium is the largest soccer-specific stadium in Kentucky.

Team colors: Lavender + mint

Major accomplishments:

  • Racing finished as the runners-up in the 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup.
  • In 2021, Racing won The Women’s Cup championship, defeating international powerhouse Bayern Munich, from Germany, to lift the trophy.
  • In 2023, Racing Louisville sent six players to the FIFA World Cup to represent their home countries in the esteemed tournament.
An aerial view of Lynn Family Stadium

Lynn Family Stadium opened in 2020 and is home to both Louisville City and Racing Louisville.

Photo provided by Louisville City FC

Louisville City FC (USL Championship) | Est. 2014

Louisville City plays in the United Soccer League Championship, which is the second-division in American soccer behind Major League Soccer (MLS). They are coached by Danny Cruz.

Where they play: Lynn Family Stadium

  • The stadium will host the NCAA College Cup Championship in December 2023.
  • Janet Jackson performed there in 2022.

Team color: Purple

Major accomplishments:

  • LouCity has won two USL Championship titles, in 2017 + 2018.
  • They’ve advanced to the USL Eastern Conference Final in each of their nine seasons.
  • LouCity made it as far as the quarterfinals in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2018.
Players (2)

The Louisville Bats were originally founded as the Louisville Redbirds in 1982.

Photo by the Louisville Bats

Louisville Bats (MiLB)| Est. 1982

Louisville has a long history with professional baseball, going all the way back to 1876 when Derby City was home to a Major League Baseball team. The current team, the Louisville Bats, was established in 1982, when they were known as the Redbirds. The Bats are an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, and play in the Triple-A International League.

Where they play: Louisville Slugger Field

  • Max Capacity: 13,131
  • Opened in 2000
  • Was home to Louisville City FC from 2015-2019
  • Named the Best Ballpark in Triple-A in 2016

Mascot: Buddy the Bat

  • Buddy is available for appearances off the field. He can be booked for $50 per hour.

Team colors: Red + blue

Major accomplishments:

  • Since coming to Louisville, the organization has been known as the Redbirds, Riverbats, and Bats + has been affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds.
  • The Bats have won the International League title four times (1984, 1985, 1995, 2001).
  • In 1983, the then-Louisville Redbirds became the first Minor League Baseball team to draw over one million fans in a single season.

Bellarmine Basketball (NCAA) | Est. 1950

A winning program at the NCAA Division II level, the Bellarmine Knights made the transition to Division I in 2020. They compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference, and the men’s team is coached by Scott Davenport.

Where they play: Freedom Hall

  • Max Capacity: 18,749
  • Home of the Louisville Cardinals from 1956 to 2010
  • Hosted six NCAA Tournament Final Fours between 1958 and 1969

Mascot: Valor the Knight

Team colors: Scarlet + silver

Major accomplishments:

  • The Knights won the NCAA Division II National Championship in 2011 and have been to four NCAA Division II Tournament Final Fours (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017).
  • Bellarmine has enjoyed 14-straight winning seasons.
  • In their first season as a Division I program in 2022, the Knights won the ASUN Championship.
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