Garber on MHTC’s grand opening

When Don Garber saw the two grass fields behind the Mercy Health Training Center, he asked if they were turf. There’s no way grass could be so perfect, he thought.

And yet, that’s the new standard for FC Cincinnati moving forward, as the club announced the grand opening of its $35 million facility on Wednesday morning in Milford.

Garber, Major League Soccer’s Commissioner, said FCC have set a new standard in practice facilities around the league.

“It’s absolutely spectacular and it will take this team to a higher level and it’ll set a new standard for Major League Soccer clubs,” Garber said. “So, it’s a good day for all of us.”

Garber first visited Cincinnati three years ago this month. At the time, the Orange and Blue had just completed their inaugural season in the USL and had MLS ambitions. On Wednesday, Garber visited the club following an inaugural MLS campaign and was impressed.

“They’ve been thoughtful,” he said of MHTC. “It’s not just a training ground and not just a place for their players to work out. It’s a home for this team and representing the spirit and culture of the club. This is just the beginning.”

The commissioner recalled his first meeting with managing owner Carl H. Lindner III and club president Jeff Berding when they delivered their ambitious plans. That vision is the new reality … and the goal for other MLS franchises.

“When I first met Carl and Jeff, they said they were going to do something special here in Cincinnati for the sport of soccer in North America,” Garber said. “Boy, did they over deliver on that.”

FCC’s big projects aren’t done yet.

While the new training center is open, West End Stadium is under construction. Starting next month, the steel frame will finally rise from the ground.

Once that facility opens, Garber has no doubt that it’ll be just as impressive as the Mercy Health Training Center.

“It’s going to be spectacular,” he said of the West End Stadium. “Not just what the whole facility will be, but the whole development.”

“What we’re trying to do is marry a rising league with a rising city, and I think the club’s done a really great job by partnering with the city leaders,” Garber added. “This is going to be an absolutely spectacular project. The project’s got lots of phases to it, but the stadium will be beautiful.”