Carl Lindner

WES ceremony highlights growth, progress

In December 2018, Carl H. Lindner III took to the podium and said he wanted to build a world-class stadium in Cincinnati. At the time, his view overlooked a massive dirt field.

When Lindner, FC Cincinnati’s majority owner, stood at a podium again on Thursday, his backdrop was a massive red crane and the skeletal framework of the planet’s next soccer cathedral.

FCC celebrated West End Stadium’s topping off ceremony on Thursday, when the last steel beam was signed before being raised into the roof of the club’s future home.

“Our vision for FC Cincinnati is to create a legacy in this city and be a positive impact to our whole community,” Lindner said. “We want to raise the profile of Cincinnati nationally and around the world … West End Stadium will be an icon, a jewel in the Queen City’s crown.”

The topping off ceremony celebrated the last steel beam reaching 110 feet high – the stadium’s highest point.

Lindner praised workers who’ve continued building the stadium during the pandemic, and said their efforts have been phenomenal.

“It’s amazing to me that this stadium is on time,” he said. “You all have lots to be thanked for.”

While the project itself is impressive, how the stadium is being constructed is just as important.

The West End Stadium project is a majority Union build, employing thousands of workers and paying prevailing wage. As of the end of May, 78% of construction contracts valued at $160 million, have been awarded to MBE, SBE and WBE certified businesses.

The ceremony was a milestone as the Orange and Blue inch closer to playing in their future home, but it was also an opportunity to celebrate the individuals who have led the project to this point.

Liza Smitherman, Jostin Construction’s VP of Corporate Development, thanked the workers who’ve helped build the venue and said this project has allowed individuals to develop, too.

“It’s a win-win for all,” Smitherman said. “Not only are we supporting this team, FCC, and wanting to see them continue to develop and grow, it’s (also) about developing and growing this community.”

After the ceremony, she said she spoke with an employee who’s a West End resident and has been working at the stadium site since the groundbreaking in 2018. 

“I think we represent and really do model what we want to see happening in our country, where you can take people, whether from this community, outside this community, that come with extreme high skill sets or low skill sets, and pull people together to work together to teach and to learn,” Smitherman said.

“When you can take the underdog, or even someone who has a lot of skills and expertise and say, ‘How can I lift as we climb,’ it’s so important and it makes a difference.”