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MLS Expansion: Cincinnati eyes stadium of its own
by Paul Kennedy, June 16th, 2017 3:07AM
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TAGS:  mls, usl


The USL's FC Cincinnati added to the many crowd marks it's set at Nippert Stadium when it drew 30,160 fans for its U.S. Open Cup win over the Columbus Crew on Wednesday, but it has plans for a stadium of its own -- the sine qua non, it believes, for an MLS expansion team.

The club unveiled designs for a soccer stadium -- a 25,000-seat horseshoe-shaped stadium -- at an event for season ticket holders on Monday at the Over The Rhine's historic Woodward Theater, a local music venue.

FC Cincinnati's goals -- quite ambitious and contingent on getting an MLS expansion franchise -- is to have everything wrapped up by the end of the summer, though it will need to find a home -- sites under consideration include Cincinnati's West End and the Oakley neighborhood and a site in nearby Kentucky -- and secure funding for the $200 million stadium.

The need for MLS teams to control their revenue streams has forced FC Cincinnati to consider other options besides Nippert Stadium, the home of the University of Cincinnati's football team. FC Cincinnati president and general manager Jeff Berding has said a soccer-specific stadium is necessary to win one of the four MLS bids.

Opposition to public support for stadium funding is a hurdle. The NFL Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium was heavily subsidized with public money, making it one of the worst public financing deals ever for the construction of a sports facility. Hamilton County is also still paying off Great American Ball Park, home of the baseball Reds.

FC Cincinnati broke the USL attendance record for a regular-season game three times in 2016 -- the largest crowd was 24,376 -- and for the playoffs -- 30,187. It averaged 17,296 a game in 2016, while it's averaging 19,415 a game in 2017, better than the average attendance of 10 MLS clubs.

Wednesday's crowd of 30,160 for the first Buckeye State meeting between FC Cincinnati and Columbus set a new U.S. Open Cup record at a non-final.

2017 Average Attendance:
19,415 FC Cincinnati
18,397 Real Salt Lake
18,000 San Jose Earthquakes
17,215 Houston Dynamo
16,704 D.C. United
16,412 New England Revolution
16,260 Philadelphia Union
15,539 Colorado Rapids
15,489 Chicago Fire
15,195 FC Dallas
13,050 Columbus Crew SC

1 comment
  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: June 18, 2017 at 1:16 p.m.
    Looks like a spectator friendly design.

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