- Sports in Louisville, Kentucky
College basketballand football are very popular in Louisville, which prides itself on being one of the best college sports towns in America.
The city is home to the
University of LouisvilleCardinals, who compete in the NCAA's Division Iand are a member of the Big East Conference. The UofL basketball team won the NCAA Division I basketball championship in 1980 and 1986 under head coach Denny Crum, and recently achieved the NCAA Final Fourin 2005 under head coach Rick Pitino. UofL plays its games off campus at Freedom Hall. The UofL football team, with coach Bobby Petrino, finished No. 7 in the nation for the 2006 season, 19th in the final BCS rankings of 2005 and 10th in 2004. After winning the Orange Bowl -- the school's first Bowl Championship Series game -- in January 2007, Petrino left the Cardinals to be the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Steve Kragthorpewas hired to replace Petrino less than two days later. The UofL football team plays on campus at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The UofL baseball team advanced to the 2007 College World Seriesin Omaha, where eight teams competed for the national championship. UofL is only one of two schools in the last five years to have been to the Final Four, a BCS bowl, and the College World Series in Omaha. Bellarmine University, home of the Knights, fields 16 competitive NCAA Division IIteams and competes in lacrosseat the Division I level (the only men's collegiate lacrosse program in the state).
Churchill Downsis home to the Kentucky Derby, the largest sports event in the state, as well as the Kentucky Oaks, which together cap the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. Churchill Downs has also hosted the renowned Breeders' Cupon six occasions, most recently in 2006.
Besides racing there is the World's Championship Horse Show. This show is mostly for
Saddlebredhorses and is held in conjunction with the Kentucky State Fair. This is the premier event of the year for Saddle Seat Pleasure and Equitation.
Louisville long ago hosted teams in the
National Football Leagueand Major League Baseballand fielded a strong franchise in the American Basketball Associationbefore the ABA- NBAmerger in 1976.
Louisville is now home to six minor-league professional and semi-professional sports teams. The
Louisville Batsare a baseballteam playing in the International Leagueas the Class AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The team plays at Louisville Slugger Fieldat the edge of the city's downtown.
Louisville Fireplay in af2, the minor league of the Arena Football League.
Louisville Bullsare a semi-pro football team in the Mid Continental Football League.
Kentucky Colonelswere one of the most successful teams in the American Basketball Association, but were not included in the ABA's merger with the NBAin 1976. A later team with the same name played in Louisville in the ABA 2000league but moved to Murray, Kentuckyin 2007 before folding. [cite web |url=http://media.www.thenews.org/media/storage/paper651/news/2007/01/19/Sports/American.Basketball.Association.Team.Looks.To.Bring.New.Energy.To.Murray-2653852.shtml |title=American Basketball Association team looks to bring new energy to Murray |publisher="The Murray State News" |date= 2007-01-19|accessdate=2007-02-14]
Louisville is also the home of
Valhalla Golf Clubwhich hosted the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championships, and will host the 2008 Ryder Cup. It is also home to one of the top skateparks in the U.S., Louisville Extreme Park.
The city was home to two professional
ice hockeyteams in the East Coast Hockey League, from 1990 to 1994 the Louisville Icehawks, followed by the Louisville Riverfrogsfrom 1995 to 1998. The city also had an American Hockey Leagueteam from 1999 to 2001, the Louisville Panthers.
Louisville is also the home of
Ohio Valley Wrestling, a professional wrestling promotionthat served as World Wrestling Entertainment's developmental territory from 2000 until 2008.cite web |title=WWE to cease affiliation with Ohio Valley Wrestling |url=http://corporate.wwe.com/news/2008/2008_02_07.jsp |publisher= World Wrestling Entertainment|date= February 7 2008|accessdate=2008-02-07] Many notable WWE performers trained in OVW, such as Jillian Hall, Randy Orton, John Cena, Batista, CM Punk, and The Spirit Squad.cite web |title=Ohio Valley Wrestling Alumni |url=http://www.ovwrestling.com/alumni.htm |publisher= Ohio Valley Wrestling|accessdate=2008-06-01]
High school sports are also very popular in the city, especially football and basketball.
Louisville area high schools have been dominant in football in recent years. Trinity (1994, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007), Male (1993, 1998, 2000) and St. Xavier (1992, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2004) high schools have won every 4A (Kentucky's largest class until the six-class system was installed in 2007) football title except one (Nelson County 1996) since 1992 and have been 13 of the 15 finalists since 1997. Manual also has a storied history, collecting 5 state titles (1925, 1938, 1948, 1959, 1966) and 2 national titles (1925 and 1938). Manual and Male are the oldest high schools in Louisville, and the 1st football game in the state was played between these two in 1893. Also, Trinity and St. Xavier have one of the fiercest rivalries in high school football. Every year, the Trinity-St. Xavier game draws an average of 35,000 fans to
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Currently, St. Xavier leads this storied rivalry with 31 wins, 26 losses and 2 ties.
Sports in Kentucky
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