CINCINNATI – Around this time a year ago, Cincinnati FC finally entered Major League Soccer to consider joining the league as an expansion club.
On Tuesday, the league’s 24th team celebrated the groundbreaking of their new football-specific stadium, which will be ready to play in the city’s historic West End community in 2021 – just in time for the opening of the FCC’s third MLS season.
It wasn’t until May 29 that Cincy was inducted into MLS, just over a month after the West End location was locked. Fast forward to last week when the FCC presented the final designs for the stadium to the League Board of Governors in New York City, a project Club President Jeff Berding described as a “beacon for the city and the community.”
🗓 12-18-2018 Another date to remember @fccincinnati with the groundbreaking @WestEndStadium.
📷 Nice pic of some of those who work so hard behind the scenes to grow the club #fccincinnati #fccincy #igniteunite #mls pic.twitter.com/aIuu7WXTQZ
– Yoann Damet (oYoannDmt), December 19, 2018
The stadium will hold 25,500 to 26,000 fans, from the original plans of starting at 21,000 with room to grow. The most noticeable feature will be the use of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), a translucent material that, through LED lighting, can make the building glow and change its color. The idea was inspired by the Allianz Arena of FC Bayern Munich to highlight Cincinnati as a city of innovation, according to architect Dan Meis.
“It will be instantly recognizable – representative of old, new and the future,” said Berding.
Meis said the key features, however, are The Bailey’s support section, with seating all the way to the pitch, and the outdoor fan space, where the stadium can provide more than just a gaming experience.
Many thanks to @fccincinnati, Carl Lindner, @JeffBerding and Mayor @JohnCranley for letting me attend today’s historic stadium. We look forward to your @MLS debut next season and the opening of your world-class stadium in 2021. pic.twitter.com/80mW26FAeq
– Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) December 19, 2018
“It’s going to be very Cincinnati FC,” said Meis. “We’re not doing anything that someone is going to say, ‘This is Cincinnati architecture, but it’s going to really scream this club.’ We’re looking for ways to bring out the color of the club, be it through the material – which is my preference – so that it really glows orange and comes alive. I’ve always loved Madison Square Garden where you look at the ceiling and instantly know where you are. It has to be a building that people can identify with. ”
Berding has visited six MLS stadiums and more than half a dozen soccer stadiums in Europe in the past few years, and the club “borrowed ideas from everyone”. The club also sought input from the local community and supporters before finalizing the plans.
MLS commissioner Don Garber stated that the design and size of the stadium were “very ambitious”. A facility with 26,000 seats would be one of the largest football-specific stadiums in the league.
“We believe it will be one of the largest football stadiums of its size, not just in our league but around the world,” said Garber.
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