Dillon Payne

MLS Announces FC Cincinnati as the League’s 26th Franchise

Yesterday, Major League Soccer officially announced FC Cincinnati as the league’s 26th franchise. The USL club will join MLS nearly immediately beginning with league play in 2019. Founded in 2015, as Futbol Club Cincinnati has gone on to break USL attendance records citing averages of nearly 21,000 in 2017. For context, that would see the Orange & Blue comfortably sitting as the 10th highest attended club in Major League Soccer that same season. As part of the expansion into MLS, Futbol Club Cincinnati will officially rebrand itself to Fussball Club Cincinnati which is more aligned with the city’s German heritage. While the attendance numbers do grab one’s attention, it isn’t the only factor in why the team has been granted MLS expansion.

The Stadium

Since the club’s inception, FCC has called Nippert Stadium home. This iconic stadium in the heart of Cincinnati, Ohio is shared between the club and University of Cincinnati football. While the stadium seating is limited to 25,000 on a per-game basis, the stadium can sit up to 30,000 for larger matches, a feat which has been conquered by the soccer club.

Photo: Hailey Bollinger for Citybeat.com











While the club has already infused millions of dollars in cosmetic and logistic renovations to the stadium, it does not plan to call Nippert home for long. As a prerequisite for MLS expansion, FC Cincinnati had to have plans for a soccer-specific stadium. In April 2018, that came to fruition when the city council approved the West-End stadium deal that would see the club spend over $200 million to build a new home. In addition to spending money on building the stadium, the club will infuse money into the community by spending $6.5 million on community improvements and $25 million to Cincinnati public schools as part of a land use agreement.

The state-of-the-art stadium will seat nearly 22,000 fans with approximately 17,000 general admission tickets and nearly 4,000 club seating. The stadium will also feature a supporter section called “The New Bailey” which will house 8,000 of the club’s most passionate fans. Better yet, the stadium is constructed in such a way that 7,000 seats can be added if stadium expansion is needed. Slated to open in 2020 or 2021, FC Cincinnati and its fans should be excited at the prospect of moving into what will undoubtedly be one of the league’s best stadiums and atmospheres.

Kit Sponsorship

In November 2017, FC Cincinnati announced that it had reached a provisional kit sponsorship deal with Mercy Health, a healthcare provider in Wisconsin. This deal was completely contingent on the club gaining expansion into Major League Soccer. With that now being confirmed, the deal will go into effect this offseason replacing Toyota as the official kit sponsor of the club. While the details and length of the deal with Mercy Health are not publicly available, many reports are stating it will stand toe-to-toe with many of the league’s more valuable jersey sponsorship deals. It’s a testament to the club’s commitment to growth and what they’ve already built for them to come into MLS with a valuable sponsorship deal. Now that they’ve been confirmed by league officials, one can expect more attention from potential partners especially with a new stadium starting construction.









All in all, it seems as though FC Cincinnati was a solid choice for league expansion. The club boasts a proven and motivated fan base, a stadium deal in place approved by lawmakers, and a sponsorship deal that will rival those of established MLS clubs! This MLS fan cannot wait to see what they bring to the league come 2019.

Categories: Major League Soccer, Sponsorship, Stadium News