With MLS commissioner Don Garber in town today, talk of FC Cincinnati and Cincinnati joining the league is heating up.
During its debut 2016 campaign, FC Cincinnati experienced plenty of success at Nippert Stadium. The club led the USL in attendance during a solid season for the league, and managed to set numerous records along the way.
The robust fan interest has caught the attention of the soccer world, including the MLS. Both FC Cincinnati and City of Cincinnati officials have expressed a desire to join the MLS, and Garber’s visit offers both parties a chance to showcase the city.
While the visit underscores the notion that there is some interest from the MLS, there are still numerous details to be discussed. For one thing, Cincinnati will face plenty of competition in its push to join the MLS in later rounds of expansion.
Another factor is the organization’s viability. FC Cincinnati is looking to address one key area by developing a training center that could be upgraded to MLS standards, but both the team and the city will have to provide some answers on how to construct a soccer-specific stadium. More from Cincinnati.com:
Garber will tour the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium on Tuesday, one day after work began on more than $2 million worth of soccer-friendly upgrades to the facility.
Even though FC Cincinnati is entering just the second year of a contract that could see it play home matches at Nippert for up to 15 years, the club’s longer-term stadium plans will likely be discussed.
“No disrespect to Cincinnati, but I don’t think there’s any way this goes forward without a plan for them to play in their own building,” ESPN.com soccer columnist Jeff Carlisle told The Enquirer. “It’s basically been established that the only way you can really make money in MLS is if you’re in your own building and taking all the ancillary revenues that come with it and you’re not having to pay rent.
“MLS is going to ask some hard question about where they are, what stage they’re at, with the stadium.”
Given that the stadium will be a major factor in any discussion, Garber’s arrival in the city should not be construed as automatic entry for Cincinnati, especially with other markets likely to offer up new stadiums. However, if FC Cincinnati can translate its fan support into momentum toward an MLS-caliber facility in the city, it will bode well for Cincinnati’s chances.
Image courtesy FC Cincinnati.
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