I have no idea if Cincinnati will get a Major League Soccer expansion franchise. But I do know this: MLS needs Cincinnati more than Cincinnati needs MLS.
You want real proof or just some anecdotal musings? Ok, I muse better than the best of them.
The computer system that handles FC Cincinnati's ticket sales crashed Tuesday night. It hit the ground like a meteor. Maybe the folks at FC Cincinnati headquarters need a bigger server.
All I know is this: FC Cincinnati is in the semifinal round of the U.S. Open Cup. The mere fact a minor league professional soccer team has reached that round is a story in and of itself. So is this -- for the second time in the U.S. Cup, FC Cincinnati has sold out Nippert Stadium.
As the anecdotes keep on coming, here's another one. As I leisurely strolled through Clifton on Wednesday (OK, I walked down one street for about eight minutes), I walked past six UC students (I guess they were students. They looked younger than me, but then again, everyone does these days) with FC Cincinnati shirts. Didn't see a Reds cap or a Bengals shirt.
All of that could be just happenstance. It could be a Millennial thing. It could be anything.
Except here now a fact: FC Cincinnati is outdrawing, on average, all but nine MLS teams this season. Seven of the nine teams play in markets larger than Cincinnati. The other two -- Vancouver and Toronto -- are in Canada. Four of the nine teams are in top-10 television markets. The Chicago Fire is one of the best teams in MLS. Cincinnati, a market 31 spots lower than Chicago, outdraws the Fire by more than 3,000 fans per match.
You'd think MLS would be not only be beating Cincinnati's proverbial door down to have FC Cincinnati join their club. It's not.
You'd think MLS suits would take one look at the atmosphere at Nippert Stadium and drool over that kind of support for one of its teams. Instead, it's insisting on a new, soccer-only facility. And, exactly what does FC Cincinnati and its fan base get in return? The supreme level of soccer in North America? Well, OK.
We also get to pay major league prices. The average ticket price for a Columbus Crew game is over $51 a match. Kansas City, another city of similar size to Cincinnati and with the same sports structure (NFL & MLB), charges an average of $66.29 a match. Can you get cheaper tickets? Sure. But average is average. And the average price at the MLS level, which apparently isn't all that great, is a lot higher than some of the leagues that play an even better brand of soccer.
And for what?
"Intense, gotta have it, I'm living it and up early on weekends to watch the English Premier League" soccer guy probably knows the difference in game between Diego Costa and Djiby. But does anyone else? And how many of those kind of soccer guys exist in Cincinnati? Enough to pay a ticket price difference of about 30 dollars a match? Would the difference in talent be evident to those who'll actually pay for a ticket to an MLS game? I don't know. All I'm doing is asking.
This isn't about the worthiness of getting Cincinnati into MLS. Hell yeah I want to see an MLS franchise in this town. I'd like to see players who've actually played and had an impact in the EPL and other international leagues. I'd love to see the best and brightest of American stars on the field. My point is, MLS should want US!
And instead of putting our city through some ridiculous version of "The Bachelor," and insisting on a stadium for a city that is stadia out, MLS should be banging on our door saying "Hey, let US in."
We should decide whether or not to answer.
As to what FC Cincinnati has done in a short amount of time, well played. You deserve better.
I'm expecting the Bengals' starting 22, how many of them actually see the field, to be out of Friday night's exhibition game quicker than an ice cube in late August. Remember from a previous column: what's the No. 1 goal for any NFL head coach in the pre-season? Right, avoid injuries.
If you want to see players like Dalton, Green, Eifert, Burfict and Atkins, I'd arrive Thursday night. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Friday. My guess is any player you don't have to look up in your program will be off the premises by 7:45...
I could use the next several paragraphs to rail against the NFL for calling these glorified scrimmages "preseason games," but that would be lazy. I'm a worker bee...
Two weeks out, I think Mayweather carries McGregor for about six rounds and then drops the hammer on him. PPV crowd is happy, house crowd is happy and the promoters probably get a rematch...
When I saw this, I got excited. I thought former "F Troop" bugler Private Hannibal Dobbs was starting for the Steelers...
Well, I guess the old line "That part-time guy is going to make me lose my full-time job" is getting a bit harder to use...
Guess we now know where Kyrie Irving would be if David Griffin was still the GM in Cleveland...
Couldn't let the day pass without remembering the great Glen Campbell, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 81. He was one of the first recording artists to make country music cool to those who never cared for it.
He was from Delight, Arkansas, which to me sounded like the middle of nowhere. A year ago, I got to meet his daughter, Debby, at a charity concert in Dayton, which featured the music of Campbell. The artist on stage that night was another great country artist from Arkansas, Collin Raye.
Raye told me how his family would gather around the TV to watch the "Glen Campbell Good Time Hour." How excited someone from their state was chosen to host the summer replacement show for the smash hit Smothers Brothers show. Raye wanted to be Glenn Campbell. It worked. Raye went on to chart a No. 1 hit "Love, Me" and record four straight albums that went platinum (one million in sales).
Campbell was part of the fabulous session group, The Wrecking Crew. And working there, he helped provide the music for a number of huge hits, including Frank Sinatra's "Strangers In The Night." He worked on a number of the Beach Boys projects with The Wrecking Crew and then, when Brian Wilson stopped traveling with them, replaced Wilson on tour.
Campbell really hit his stride quickly, left the Beach Boys, and began recording his own music. The genius song writer Jimmy Webb found a voice in Glen Campbell with "Wichita Lineman," "By the Time I Get To Phoenix" and this song, a powerful song at the height of the Vietnam war.
Campbell won four Grammys, FOUR, in one year alone. He led a full and robust, often stormy life. It ended far too soon. Campbell died of Alzheimer's disease, six years after he was diagnosed.