I remember sitting in a high school football stadium five years ago covering a fourth-division soccer team wondering if this was the biggest soccer could get in Cincinnati?
The effort to grow the sport was there, but the people weren’t.
This might seem comical in retrospect – it is – but it was my genuine thought that persisted at the time.
Fast forward and we have a hometown MLS team raising the frame of its future home just blocks from downtown Cincinnati: the one of the largest soccer-specific stadiums in the league, but one that will also boast of numerous superlatives around MLS.
This sounds too good to be true, but then again, so many things in FC Cincinnati’s past and present have been that way. Things tend to work out better than anyone could’ve dreamed, and West End Stadium will be no different.
On Thursday morning, the club will unveil some major aspects of FCC’s future home. At a time when we all need a reminder of what’s to come, we’ll see what awaits the club in 2021 is more beautiful than anything we could’ve envisioned.
It’s big, it’s bold and it’s a literal gamechanger for the Queen City and sports teams around the country.
Not bad for a city that’s the 35th-largest media market in the U.S. … and where professional soccer was never stable until FC Cincinnati came along.
It’s pretty easy to get caught up in over-hyping things, I know. Never try making something more important or more significant than it truly is.
But it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say West End Stadium will be a soccer cathedral.
In terms of size, it’ll be one of the largest soccer-specific stadiums in MLS, only behind the Galaxy’s home in LA.
It will always house a massive, steep, foreboding wall of cacophony for The Bailey at the north end. On either side of the stadium, the total amount of premium club seating will double the current league average. There are more suites in West End Stadium than any other non-NFL venue in MLS. (FCC tend to have a big impact on growing league averages. Just look at USL attendance numbers.)
The stadium will hold 26,000 raucous FC Cincinnati fans, and the sheer numbers of suites and club seats were baked into the design with one specific purpose: to raise ample revenue to build and support an FCC team that competes on the field, contends for championships and raises the region’s collective pride in its sports teams.
Lots of people refer to FC Cincinnati as a massive “project.” You hear that from players, from the team staff and you’ll hear it again from the future head coach.
If the club is a project, then West End Stadium is the literal building block from which everything will grow.
Between the time the very first stadium rendering was unveiled in June 2017 and today, so much has changed. But your passion for FC Cincinnati hasn’t.
That’s why Orange and Blue fans deserve – and are getting – the best soccer stadium in MLS.
On Thursday, we’ll see the latest glimpse of the club’s future home. Maybe it’ll feel too good to be true.
But then again, so are many of things that FCC and the supporters have achieved.
This is just the latest example – and the biggest one yet.