With a transition to MLS on the horizon, FC Cincinnati has plenty of work to do to prepare for the 2019 season and beyond.
After building a successful Division II USL operation over the last several years, FC Cincinnati took a major step forward in May, when its expansion bid was approved by MLS. FC Cincinnati will begin MLS play next year at Nippert Stadium, its current USL home, but a new stadium on the city’s West End is expected to open in 2021.
There is a great deal of preparation that goes into a move to MLS. Building an MLS roster and planning the new stadium are obvious tasks for FC Cincinnati, but it goes well beyond those areas. A new training facility is also in the works, while the club has to restructure its front office staff for MLS, and execute upgrades to Nippert Stadium so that it can be a viable MLS home for at least two seasons. FC Cincinnati president and general manager Jeff Berding recently spoke with the Cincinnati Enquirer about the process, noting that plenty of work has to take place in order to make a smooth transition to MLS:
Berding had to restructure and revamp his front office staff. The stadium site has city approval, but it’s still in the design process – with an eye on making it bigger than the 21,000 seats originally planned. He has to think about what Nippert Stadium will look like next year when major league play begins.
He even has to sweat details such as how many parking spaces the stadium needs. It has been, as Berding told The Enquirer in an exclusive interview, a “monumental challenge.”
“You set this goal and you start swimming for it and all of the sudden you find yourself in the middle of the ocean,” Berding said. “You can either keep swimming or drown, so you better just keep swimming. That’s how it’s been since May 29, and to be fair, probably before that.
“We’ve been a very successful USL team but that’s not the standard. We want to be a very successful MLS team.”
Cincinnati has certainly been a success in recent years, setting several USL attendance records since it began play in 2016. That, along with the new stadium plans, undoubtedly made it an intriguing expansion candidate, but now it will be matter of ensuring that FC Cincinnati can elevate that success to MLS.
Image courtesy FC Cincinnati.
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