FC Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati have unveiled a Nippert Stadium renovation plan that is designed to make the facility more soccer friendly.
Primarily a college football venue, Nippert Stadium is being further modified to better accomidate professional soccer. The big news from the latest upgrades is the field, which will be expanded to FIFA regulation size, as the existing field walls will be pushed back.
FC Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati unveiled the plan on Friday.
“We have a challenge associated with the corners of the football footprint,” UC Director of Athletics Mike Bohn said. “We wanted to expand the area surrounding the end zone for the safety of our players. Obviously, that allows us to expand the footprint for soccer at the same time.”
The renovation of the walls in the south end zone will give UC fans a new seating area which will provide some of the closest and most exciting views in college football. Customized bleachers, risers, on-field suites and other options are being considered for the increased space.
The creation of additional space in the south end zone for the soccer game field will allow for a run-off area between the corner of the football end zone and the stadium wall, solving a significant player-safety issue.
“We plan to carve out a niche there and we’ll work with our numerous partners to utilize a unique space for some new and exciting gameday experience opportunities for our fans,” Bohn said.
Completion is anticipated in late March, before the UC football spring game and FC Cincinnati’s season opener.
The $2-million plus, FC Cincinnati funded project will also widen the game field to meet the FIFA standard of 115 yards long by 75 yards wide to enable Nippert to play host to international friendly matches. The current soccer field dimensions are 110 yards long and 70 yards wide.
A new brick wall, replacing the current wall built in 1996, will be erected on the field perimeter which will feature decorative CPAW inlays as well as updated infrastructure for electrical, plumbing and drainage and communications pieces associated with television and game operations for both teams.
Around 1,200 seats would be affected, but a large number of those are in the first row of the lower bowl and had limited visibility during football games.
“We are communicating with our impacted season ticket holders to help them understand their options and the seat selection process that we’ll go through,” Bohn said. “Some of those seats are obviously eliminated. We want our fans to know that we’re concerned about them and that line of communication is critical.”
The artificial surface will have additional turf installed to cover the new field area created by the wall moving back. There are no plans for a grass field at this time.
UC’s Planning + Design + Construction office will oversee the project with Cincinnati based MSA Architects – Michael Schuster Associates, serving as the architect and Sunesis Construction, based out of West Chester, as the general contractor. Schuster, the principal and owner at MSA, is a graduate of UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.
Nippert Stadium underwent a privately-funded, $86-million renovation between December 2013 and August 2014 which saw capacity upgraded to 40,000 fans, the addition of all new concourses, concessions and restrooms and the building of the 105,000 square foot west pavilion which holds new media facilities, 1,100 club seats and 53 indoor and outdoor suites of various sizes.
If FC Cincinnati leaves the facility for any reason at the end of their current three-year lease, the club would be responsible for returning Nippert’s seating bowl to its original configuration.
Efforts are underway to secure funding for a new HD scoreboard, sound system, additional ribbon boards, HD cameras and a state-of-the-art control room inside the West Pavilion. The project is estimated to cost $6-million and final design work will begin once funds are secured.