Aug. 01, 2017
The Story of FC Cincinnati by Riley McManus
You may know about FC Cincinnati, a 2nd division side from USL, and if you don’t, get to know them. Formed August 12, 2015, the team has been engraved into the sports culture there. FCC decals everywhere, flags on cars, shirts and shirts flooding the streets, it’s a sight to see. Oh, the soccer? It’s been superb. Playoffs in the first year, while breaking the single game USL attendance record 3 times… yes, you read that right, they broke the USL attendance record 3 times in their first year of existence.
To understand why MLS should give a serious shout to Cincy for expansion, you must understand what soccer means to the people in the city. I talked to Chase Crawford and Bryan Weigel, two guys who absolutely love soccer, but more importantly, soccer in THEIR city to understand the culture of Cincinnati and why soccer matters.
Soccer seems to have always been a pretty big deal in Cincinnati. A young batch of soccer players with cool parents who will take them out to games is always an ever present thing. The youth of the city has embraced the game and now they are dying to support a team at the highest level.
I asked Chase why does FCC deserve to move on up with the big boys.
“From a fan standpoint, there is no more deserving team than FC Cincinnati when it comes to the topic of expansion. I have been to MLS games in Portland and Seattle and international games in Columbus and Chicago... The atmosphere in Nippert reminds me of those electric experiences I've had at other stadiums."
FC Cincinnati has exemplified the growth of soccer in this country. The club has taken the city by storm packing matches every week. The leadership of club GM/President Jeff Berding and the ownership group headed by Carl Lindner III have worked to make the club uniquely Cincinnati. They work with the community to be involved with any event possible and they have established a community fund to make field and futsal courts to grow the game. The ownership group has even poured millions of dollars into Nippert Stadium to bring it up to FIFA regulations. Everything the club has done has been major league. 12,000 season ticket holders also exemplify what it means to support a club. Local media had taken notice as well. Every major news outlet in our area sends writers, photographers or camera crews to every match. The local media treat FC Cincinnati like the Reds & Bengals. Not many cities can say that about their 2nd division club. Look at the recent US Open Cup match where FCC beat MLS’ Chicago Fire on ESPN.
FC Cincinnati looks to also have an inside track at a stadium. Trying to move to a more populated venue than 40,000 seat Nippert Stadium on the campus of the University of Cincinnati (Go Bearcats!). It seems that the FCC to MLS has taken some pretty extension moves to show Garber that the city and club are serious above playing at the top level of American soccer.
At the end of the day, Bryan Weigel said it best, “including FCC into MLS would send a message to supporters everywhere. Support your club to the fullest and good things could happen. You want to build diehard Soccer/MLS fans in the future? Take some of the best proven fanbases vs. potential markets. FCC could step into MLS tomorrow and succeed on the business side immediately. With a $25 million dollar practice facility and a $200 million dollar stadium, FCC will reshape the club landscape for the future of MLS.”