FC Cincinnati — the new professional soccer team in town — plays its inaugural United Soccer League home game Saturday at the University of Cincinnati’s recently transformed football stadium.
Thousands of fans are expected to witness club history as FCC, which opened the season March 26 with a 1-0 loss at Charleston, hosts the Charlotte Independence at 7 p.m. The match has been dubbed part of the Queen City Cup Challenge between the two teams, whose host cities share a nickname.
For those of you planning to attend Saturday, or to go to future matches, here’s our fans guide to everything you need to know on home game days.
1. Where’s the Pitch?
As noted above, FC Cincinnati’s home games will be played at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, located at 2700 Bearcats Way in Clifton. If you have never been to a Bearcats football game, don’t be confused by Sheakley Athletics Complex, which is the football team’s practice field and the first athletics facility you’ll see if you’re coming from the east on Corry Boulevard. Keep heading west, and you’ll see Nippert just ahead.
The 45,000-seat stadium has been configured to a cozier atmosphere fitting for the most highly-attended USL games, and the field has been converted into a professional soccer pitch.
2. Where to Park
Day-of-game parking is $10 in all garages surrounding Nippert Stadium on UC’s campus. There are six cash garages on campus, but three garages — the ones closest to the stadium — require passes. All 2016 season-ticket holders have the option to purchase parking passes for the season at a cost of $150; these are valid in the CCM or Calhoun Garages. Handicap parking is available at the CCM garage with a state-issued placard or license plate and $10 parking fee. For those without passes, the Corry Garage is probably the closest to the stadium and most accessible.
3. Ticket Info/Youth Deals
Individual game tickets range in price from $5 for college students to $25 near midfield and are available for purchase online anytime or at the box office on game days.
The FCC Box Office, located on the west side of the Richard E. Lindner Athletics Center directly adjacent to the east side of Nippert Stadium, will be open beginning four hours prior to kickoff. Purchased tickets can be left to pick up at Will Call on the southwest corner of Fifth Third Arena, adjacent to UC’s Oscar Robertson statue and north of the Sheakley Lawn, which is between Nippert and UC baseball’s Marge Schott Stadium.
Because of the high demand of club-seat season tickets, they are not available for individual-game ticket purchases. Children aged 3 and under do not require a ticket, but if your child needs a seat, the only way to guarantee one next to you is to buy a ticket.
Thanks to the Youth Soccer Community Days initiative, all youth soccer players grade 8 and below can attend the first two home games (April 9 and April 16) for just $1 a ticket (purchased at the box office) if they wear their team’s soccer jersey to the game.
4. Where to Sit
There are plenty of good seating options, but where you sit depends on how much you want to spend and whether you want to be near a certain group of fans.
“The Bailey” section, which costs $10 per ticket, is meant to be the raucous home for FCC’s most passionate fans and supporters groups, such as The Pride and Die Innenstadt. Located behind the north goal line in Sections 131-135, The Bailey is general admission seating. Visiting supporters groups will be placed in Section 104 on the East concourse of Nippert Stadium.
The college student section, called The Legion, is located behind the south goal line in Sections 112-116. Students currently enrolled in any college and with a valid photo college ID are eligible to purchase tickets in this section — for just $5 each.
A pair of sections for youth/clubs — at $12 per person and conducive for families and youth soccer players of all ages — flank The Legion with a decorative tarp blocking off an entire section in between the two types of seating.
Other sections are suitable for any crowd, but here are some extra “good to know” things about the stadium seating:
- Both team benches will reside on the west sideline of Nippert Stadium
- The top 10 rows of sections 118-124 are under cover
- The top four rows of 103-110 are under cover
- The top three rows of the club seats are under cover (available to season-ticket holders only)
- The west side seat locations will be under shade before the east side seats
- Concessions, beer gardens, gate access, restrooms and ADA seating are available on either side of the stadium
5. Pre-game Entertainment for All Ages
Gates open 60 minutes prior to kickoff, but many fans will be gearing up for the game well before then — and there are festivities suitable for all ages.
The Clifton Taste of Belgium, which is just down the street from Nippert Stadium on Vine Street, serves as the official watch party location for away games but will also hold pre-match festivities before home matches. Before the home opener against Charlotte, the bistro plans to hold raffles and offer specials, such as $3 Stellas and $5 beer cheese and loaded croquettes. Moerlein’s Blood Orange IPA — a collaboration between the brewery and FC Cincinnati — also will be unveiled at the event.
Many of the Pub Partners offer game-day specials as well. “The Pride” supporters group meets at The Brass Tap in Clifton, and Die Innenstadt meets at Rhinegeist in Over-the-Rhine about three hours before kickoff. Both groups will march from their respective bars to the stadium.
There also will be plenty of entertainment for kids before the match in the UDF Kids’ Zone, conveniently located on the Sheakley Lawn, between Nippert Stadium and Marge Schott Stadium (baseball). The Kids’ Zone will feature games, food and drinks, merchandise and all sorts of other activities to get the kids geared up for the match.
6. What to Bring/Not Bring
Just about any item that can be considered dangerous or inappropriate is prohibited from being taken into Nippert Stadium, but here are some other items not welcome, unless pre-approved (certain exceptions are made for members of FC Cincinnati-recognized supporters groups):
- Professional camera equipment, tripods, battery packs, large commercial video cameras, cameras with detachable lenses and/or lenses 6 inches or longer
- Laser pointers or flashlights
- Signs and banners larger than 2 feet by 2 feet
- Umbrellas (fans should bring raincoats/ponchos for inclement weather)
- Outside food and beverage of any kind
- Backpacks and large bags over 14x14x6 inches
- Noisemakers (airhorns, drums, whistles, cowbells, horns, etc.)
- Masks can be worn in your seat only and must be removed when leaving your section
- Strollers or baby seats may not be taken into the stands or left in section entrances
- Selfie sticks and/or monopods
7. What to Wear
Anything orange and/or blue. Stop in the FC Cincinnati Pro Shop at the club’s main offices downtown, located at 14 East Fourth St., for official merchandise. The shop is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and you’ll need to ring the bell by the door to gain access. Or, pick up some gear at the game. Merchandise will be available on match days at the stadium.
8. Concessions/Beer Gardens
The concession stands feature the usual stadium staples, along with food and beverage offerings from premium local vendors. Thanks to partnerships with Heidelberg Distributing, Stagnaro Distributing, Ohio Valley Wine & Beer and Cavalier Distributing, there will also be four conveniently located beer gardens around Nippert Stadium, providing traditional American favorites and some of the top local craft beers.
9. And a Special Treat for the Home Opener …
In order to make the home opener extra special, FC Cincinnati will have a flyover from the Tri-State Warbird Museum during pre-game ceremonies. The club also will be giving away commemorative Inaugural Day tickets to 5,000 fans upon exiting the stadium at the conclusion of the game.
And… that about covers it.
Sounds like a great way to enjoy some soccer.