FC Cincinnati stadium plans call for game-day pedestrian zone on Central Parkway

Posted at 5:00 AM, Nov 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-28 18:23:29-05

CINCINNATI -- City officials got their most detailed look yet at plans for a new Major League Soccer stadium in the West End, including a potential pedestrian-only zone on Central Parkway during home games.

Site developers on Monday filed roughly 130 pages of documents with the Department of City Planning, a portion of which included recommendations on how to manage vehicle and pedestrian traffic, as well as parking, on days when FC Cincinnati plays at the new stadium.

The new MLS stadium will sit overtop Central Avenue between Wade Street and Ezzard Charles Drive, where Taft Information Technology High School's Stargel Stadium currently stands.

Plans include closing Central Parkway to vehicle traffic between 15th and Wade streets as well as closing 14th, Magnolia, 15th, Odeon and Wade streets to all but local traffic between Central Parkway and Elm Street on game days.

Map depicting proposed game-day traffic flow on Central Parkway and surrounding streets near the new MLS stadium in West End. Click or tap to enlarge. (Provided, MEIS Architects)

The idea is to provide a safe Central Parkway crossing for pedestrians who park blocks away from the stadium, the documents indicate.

The current street configuration does not provide any pedestrian crossings on Central Parkway between 15th and Wade streets. The plan would make the entire zone one large pedestrian crossing before and after FC Cincinnati home games.

FC Cincinnati's 2018 United Soccer League schedule included 24 home games. MLS officials have not released future schedules for the club.

Similarly, Reds and Bengals home games often mean street closures at The Banks, but none of those streets carry close to as many vehicles as Central Parkway.

WCPO asked the city's Department of Transportation and Engineering how such a game-day closure of this street segment would impact traffic on Central Parkway and surrounding side streets.

The city issued this statement via email: "No final decisions have been made. The City will work with the site development team to ensure the final game day plan is safe and efficient."

Developers expect most fans attending home games will have a quarter-mile walk -- or streetcar, Red Bike or scooter ride -- or more between where they park and the gate.

The site plans anticipate between 1,000 and 1,500 parking spaces within 600 feet of the stadium, but the majority of nearby off-street parking -- surface lots and parking garages -- are in Over-the-Rhine and Downtown.

The team will need them if they expect to fill the stadium's 26,500 seats.

West Chester-based civil engineering firm The Kleingers Group provided what it called a "conservative" estimate of available parking within a mile radius of the stadium. Those estimates include roughly another 8,500 spots -- give or take, depending on other events on game days.

Parking options within a mile of the site for the new MLS stadium in West End. Click or tap to enlarge. (Provided, The Kleingers Group)

Those are on top of the 1,000-1,500 spaces expected from three new parking garages set to pop up around the stadium site during development. The county will finance one of those parking garages.

Demolition at the existing Stargel Stadium site began this week, with construction set to begin at the new MLS stadium site next month. Club officials expect FC Cincinnati to begin playing at the new stadium in 2021.

Pat LaFleur reports on transportation and mobility for WCPO. Connect with him on Twitter (@pat_laFleur) and on Facebook.