Despite doubts that it can support MLS, a Hamilton County commissioner is pushing to keep FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium.
There would be no denying that Nippert Stadium has been a successful environment for FC Cincinnati over its first two USL seasons, as the club has frequently attracted large crowds to its matches. Still, as it pursues an MLS expansion entry, the club is eyeing a more modern soccer-specific stadium that it feels would be a better fit for the league.
As part of its MLS pursuit, the club has proposed a new stadium that would be financed through a private-public partnership. Three sites–including two in Cincinnati and another in nearby Newport, KY–have been floated as locations, but officials in Hamilton County, where some still feel burned by debt service from the Bengals and Reds facilities, have not expressed much enthusiasm for funding the project.
Todd Portune, president of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners, is instead suggesting that the club remain at Nippert Stadium. However, FC Cincinnati general manager Jeff Berding is countering that idea, claiming that it will be too difficult to Nippert Stadium to MLS standards and could cause inconveniences for the University of Cincinnati. More from WPCO:
“They’re playing in a perfect stadium right now and we don’t need to build a new one,” Portune told WCPO in an interview last week. “That’s where I am on this, that’s where the university is on this.”
Berding doesn’t exactly agree.
He said the stadium boasts a number of inconveniences that could thwart the team’s plan to get into the MLS. The team’s ownership – which is looking for $100 million in public dollars to help build a new stadium – doesn’t plan to have discussions with UC officials to stay at the stadium for MLS play.
Berding said he’s consulted with architects and engineers who believe the university would need to consider reconfiguring its campus in order to expand the stadium.
FC Cincinnati’s proposal calls for a $200 million stadium, and a $250 million investment from the club should its expansion bid prove to be successful. The $250 million figure includes $100 million toward the cost of the stadium, with the remaining $150 million covering the league’s expansion fee.
Image of Nippert Stadium courtesy FC Cincinnati.
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