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Everything you need to know about FC Cincinnati and TQL Stadium before first home game

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Posted at 5:00 AM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-15 12:42:27-04

FC Cincinnati will play its first-ever home game at TQL Stadium on Sunday, signaling the start of a new phase for the club and for Cincinnati, where increasingly large segments of the population are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ready to board the hype train before cleats meet grass? You’ll need to know a few things ahead of time, including:

The game starts at 4 p.m., and gates open at 2:30. Parking lots open at 1, so you’ll have plenty of time to get situated for the game if you show up early. FC Cincinnati has its own guide for fans with logistical questions about buying tickets and getting there.

Our meteorologists are predicting some rain on Sunday, so bringing an umbrella or a raincoat is a great idea.

You can’t use cash inside the stadium. If you plan on picking up food or merch, bring your card or head to one of the three machines that can convert your cash to Visa gift cards.

There are other changes coming to TQL Stadium, including some policy tweaks that differ from Nippert Stadium. Notably, only clear bags will be allowed inside the stadium, so leave your patterned bags and oversized totes at home. Umbrellas are also not permitted in TQL. FC Cincinnati has compiled everything you need to know about the match day experience, A-Z, here.

There’ll be lots to eat, and it looks good. We’ve got the rundown of dishes here and a gallery here, so you can plan what you want to grab when you get there. A Taste of Belgium waffle seems like a must, right?

The team’s new digs are impressive even in the world of professional sports. Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber told us he wants “cathedrals” for clubs in his league, and TQL Stadium fits the bill. He envisions it as part of Cincinnati’s broader rebirth.

So are its fans. Longtime Cincinnati community pillar Carl Lindner III, the team’s CEO, told us that “(FC Cincinnati’s) supporters are off the charts and have been such an important part of launching FC Cincinnati and just a huge part of its success.”

We’re keeping track of how this affects the West End community, too. TQL Stadium was a project that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Team leadership characterizes it as an infusion of cash and opportunity for the West End, a neighborhood where many historically struggle with poverty and displacement. Community advocates say they’re worried the stadium will boost the cost of living there without uplifting longtime residents. We checked in with both sides to talk about fears and hopes for the future.