MLS Commissioner Don Garber spent Tuesday on a whizz-bang tour of Cincinnati, which culminated in a Town Hall meeting focused on FC Cincinnati’s bid for MLS expansion. The takeaway sentiment conveyed by Major League Soccer’s chief executive was that FC Cincinnati is a bona fide contender for expansion, but there’s still work to do.
ESPN commentator and analyst Taylor Twellman participated in Tuesday’s festivities at his own expense and emceed the event.
Garber made several stops during his tour of the Queen City. His caravan was followed by an impassioned group of supporters that serenaded the commissioner at each destination.
— Dan Courtemanche (@courtemancheMLS) November 29, 2016
He started the day in meetings with FC Cincinnati’s ownership group, led by local businessman Carl Lindner III, at Great American Tower. He next toured the team’s playing venue, Nippert Stadium, both by foot and helicopter (for that all important aerial view).
Thereafter, the Soccer Don met Mayor John Cranley and took a motor tour of the city’s urban core before catching up with the supporters groups. At Rhinehaus pub, he toasted the team’s most devout fans, congratulated them on their record setting season, and buoyed their hopes for MLS expansion.
The Town Hall event itself lasted ninety minutes and was opened by owner Carl Lindner III and general manager Jeff Berding. After a screening of the newly released 2016 Season Highlights Video, Garber took the stage. He spoke in generous terms about the team’s success. He then fielded audience questions while Twellman directed traffic and added levity.
Garber emphasized that the strength of the FC Cincinnati bid currently lies in its ownership group, high quality leadership, and passionate fan base. He applauded Nippert Stadium as an excellent venue but hinted that a successful MLS bid may be tied to a long term plan for a stadium owned by the club.
“There is a lot that we need to figure out as a league (MLS) and there is a lot that still needs to be done here…to continue to build this club, to continue to grow its fanbase, to continue to figure out what its long term stadium solution is. I am very impressed by what’s happening here. Cincinnati deserves a MLS team. Every journey starts with a first step and that first step was today.”
Want more? Watch the full video of the #MLS2CINCY Town Hall here.
— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) November 29, 2016