Sunday May 16th will be a historic day for not only Cincinnati, but for all of soccer in the USA. FC Cincinnati's home opener at 4 p.m. against Inter Miami CF, will mark the opening for what is nothing less than the best soccer specific stadium in the nation. TQL Stadium (formerly West End Stadium) finally open's Saturday after a construction process that lasted the better part of two years.
FC Cincinnati had previously played in the University of Cincinnati's Nippert stadium since the club's first game in 2016. The 35,000+ Capacity stadium was build in 1915 and is the home of the UC Bearcats football team. FC Cincinnati has had some very fond memories at Nippert, including several USL and Ohio soccer attendance records. It was at Nippert that the Club had their Inaugural MLS season. Next weekend however the club will take a huge step forward.
The Club's new home, TQL Stadium features 26,000 seats, a vintage German beer hall-style club area, a 360-degree roof and first-of-its-kind LED lighting technology on the stadium’s "fins". The 26k seats will temporarily make it the largest soccer specific stadium in the USA, and the Roof will allow all those fan's to stay dry. Fan's are very excited about the covered seats after having spent many a soggy night drenched at Nippert stadium.
It's the "Fins" that really take TQL Stadium to the next level however. Each fin is completely lit by LEDs and are 100 percent customizable. No other venue in the world has this technology. FC Cincinnati broke the internet with it's formal introduction of fins during it's light show in mid March.
While the stadium is futuristic in it's exterior, the inside of the stadium gives the feeling of a historic European stadium. The design uses tile and brick finishes to give an old world feel while providing all the of comfort and modern luxuries a fan could ask for.
Even Taylor Twellman, who holds no punches on how he feels about FC Cincinnati since they entered the league, has heaped praise on the club.
Truly, this stadium is the best of both worlds.
The majority of the stadium will feature soft padded stadium style seating with cup holders, while the supporter's section will feature "safe standing" option. "The Bailey" or The Bailey 2.0 as some call it, will consist of a 3,100 supporter section, a Tifo rigging system for the fan's Hand Painted artwork, drum stands, and their own dedicated Bar!
On top of having plenty of room for FCC's massive support groups, the stadium's design will bring them extremely close to the field. This is the same fanbase that made Nippert stadium, a football field, a nightmare for opposing clubs. While unfortunately only 30% of the stadium's capacity is allowed to attend, the fan's close proximity to the players should provide an EPIC atmosphere.
When not in the stands, the fan's will enjoy state of the art enemities. The stadium provides 4 unique club sections, The Tunnel club, The Pitch View club, The Cincinnatus club, and The First Financial club.
The Tunnel Club
This high end club will give you amazing access to the players before they take the pitch. The club and bar area is actually part of the player's walk out tunnel to the field. It has 390 seats, it's own bar, reserved parking, and viewing access to post match press conferences.
The Pitch View Club
While not quiet as high end as the tunnel club, the Pitch View Club may provide the best game viewing experience. The 790 seat section as 2 bars and a veranda for lounging while watching the game.
The Cincinnatus Club
This 1,100 seat section is basically a social club. It has 2 bars, 3 "dining concepts" and provides lower bowl area seating.
The First Financial Club
Sponsered by the Cincy based bank, this section has 2,100 seats, 3 bars and 2 dining concepts. This club is basically a giant German Beer hall. Cincinnati is known for it's German heritage and this club looks like it will make Cincinnatian's feel at home. The brick design gives the feel of one of the many historic German Beer halls and bars in the city. Honestly, I think this club will be my favorite.
The Locker Room
Don't forget, this is a big moment for the players as well. After years of having a make-shift locker room below the raucous Bailey, the players finally have their new home. Their locker rooms is top of the line and will rival some of the worlds most famous clubs.
While the team has struggled again on the pitch this season. The Club has been winning off of the pitch. This Saturday will be FC Cincinnati's chance to showcase their masterpiece to the world. TQL stadium will raise the bar on what soccer specific stadiums can be in the USA. The stadium has been dubbed "The Jewel in the Queen City's Crown." The club hopes that it will be a shining example that soccer is growing in this country, but it's also a gift to the fans. The fans made this club. Without them, none of this is possible. It also shows what this club is capable of. The team will improve, the wins will come and so will the fans.
I mean, what player wouldn't hyped to play in this Cathedral to American soccer?
By: Rob Burkhardt
Note: all images provided by FC Cincinnati and/or The Cincinnati Enquirer