Nippert Stadium

OPINION: The sendoff Nippert Stadium deserves

There are essentially only two questions Orange and Blue fans have on a typical schedule release day:

  1. When is the #HellisReal Derby?
  2. When is the home opener?

Well, we’ve already played one derby with Columbus Crew SC, albeit across state lines in the MLS is Back Tournament.

But now we know when Cincinnati will finally have its 2020 home opener at Nippert Stadium.

The first one was originally scheduled March 14 – two days after the league suspended the regular season because of the global pandemic. Now, FCC will face D.C. United on Aug. 21 – yes, the previous home opener opponent will still be the same five months later.

The atmosphere will certainly feel different. While we can celebrate the club’s return home, it’ll begin inside an empty Nippert Stadium – one without the fans and atmosphere that catapulted FC Cincinnati from a third-division USL side to a team that ranks third in MLS for average attendance.

But regardless of who will be at Nippert Stadium on matchday, the good news is that there will be a home opener after all.

This hasn’t been the 2020 regular season that anyone could’ve expected. And when season ticket members got their ticket packages in February, there was a whiskey glass and coasters printed with FCC’s top moments at Nippert Stadium.

“Raise your glass to a fifth and final season at Nippert Stadium” certainly carries a new meaning now.

Yes, all of us patiently await the 2021 home opener at West End Stadium – and some of us have already selected our seats in the venue – but Saturday’s announcement about soccer returning to the Queen City isn’t about the future. It’s about appreciating the present.

The memories we have from nights at Nippert Stadium will never be forgotten. Sean Okoli’s scissor kick goal. Crystal Palace. Djiby’s header. Mitch’s saves. The inaugural MLS home opener.

These are moments that brought indescribable joy, unfiltered emotion and enormous pride that have shaped our perception of what FC Cincinnati are, have been and can be.

Raise a glass to more memories at Nippert. This isn’t the goodbye we never got. It’s to a new beginning we’re lucky to have.