There isn’t much time on the clock for FC Cincinnati to prepare for the upcoming 2019 MLS season. Even the schedule for portions further down the line need to progress. With so many moving pieces already in operation, the FCC ownership group and key members of the West End community welcomed guests and fans to the site of the future FC Cincinnati stadium for a formal breaking of ground.
Fans were invited to attend the event on the grounds of the former Stargel Stadium. While much of the stadium has been demolished and cleared out, the blue “CINCINNATI” endzone remained as a stage between phases. Attendees were provided orange and blue commemorative FCC shovels, as well as a free Skyline Coney.
The ceremony, hosted by former Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory, featured speeches by team figureheads Jeff Berding and Carl Lindner III, as well other key players in this major project:
- MLS Commissioner Don Garber
- Major John Cranley
- Keith Blake, President of the West End Community Council
- Denise Driehaus, Board VP for the Hamilton County Commission
- Ericka Copeland-Dansby, VP of the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education
- Laura Brunner, President and CEO of The Port
- David Spaulding, Turner Construction & Dan Meis, Meis Architecture
The speakers provided some insight on the progress towards the West End Stadium, as well as some things that still need coverage:
- Garber noted that the opening of the West End Stadium will mark the 23rd soccer-specific stadium in Major League Soccer. “The amount of energy and the amount of work with this ownership group and the public sector led by the Mayor is nothing short of remarkable,” Garber praised.
- Blake looked back on the history of major-league sporting events in the West End’s Crosley Field and Stargel
Stadium,but was also hopeful for the future Community Benefits Agreement signed between team and community. “I believe it is awesome that the world’s most popular sport has a home in the West End,” Blake stressed.
- Copeland-Dansby provided reminders of the benefits that FCC would provide the school district and community in the form of property taxes, a new $10 million Stargel Stadium, and investments in community funds and local scholarships.
- Spaulding gave a bit of a general timeline on the stadium’s completion by March 2021. Foundation work will begin in March 2019, followed by structural steel placement in late 2019 that will finish by the first quarter of 2020. The workforce will average around 250 people on site per day, with a maximum of 400 per day at the climax.
While the ceremony was generally commemorative, there is still quite a bit left to accomplish before construction can occur. Sharon Coolidge from the Enquirer points out that land still needs to be purchased and logistics need to be determined for parking and city permits.
However, for the most part, this was still a day that both the FCC faithful and partners were happy to see. Berding emphasized that there’s so much more to do, but also so much more excitement on the way.
“We have a lot ahead of us in Major League Soccer. We’re both excited and anxious to get going. The last few weeks–and especially the last ten days–have been a whirlwind as we begin to craft our inaugural roster that will take the field for us in March, proudly representing Cincinnati. So today’s is really the perfect topper of all this activity.”
Stay tuned to Orange & Blue Press for more coverage of how the West End Stadium project develops over the upcoming months.