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FC Cincinnati shows off initial West End stadium design, and some West Enders begin to relax

Posted: 1:42 PM, Oct 09, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-10 00:42:34-04
FC Cincinnati shows off new stadium design
FC Cincinnati shows off new stadium design
FC Cincinnati shows off new stadium design
FC Cincinnati shows off new stadium design
FC Cincinnati shows off new stadium design
FC Cincinnati shows off new stadium design

CINCINNATI -- FC Cincinnati released renderings of its designs for its future West End stadium Tuesday, and members of the community looked toward its now-inevitable future with anxiety and excitement.

"I think it's going to transform," Angela Sullivan-Jones said of the neighborhood. "You know, people just got to get adjusted to things. They ain't used to no new changes."

The soccer team's renderings are for a planned stadium with a capacity estimated between 25,500 and 26,500 and a maximum height of 120 feet, according to a news release. 

A canopy roof will cover all the seats in order to protect fans from the weather and suppress noise, according to the team. The Bailey, seating designated for supporters, will be located in the north end of the stadium with a capacity almost double the Bailey's 1,700 capacity at Nippert. The future stadium will also include twice as much "premium seating" as Nippert, including suites and club space. 

Meis Architects produced the design with support from Cincinnati-based Elevar. 

FC Cincinnati knew as soon as it set its sights on Major League Soccer membership it would need a soccer-specific stadium in which to play, but the team spent months courting the West End before community leaders agreed to let them build there. 

"It as a pretty brutal process to go through as a community," West End Community Council financial secretary Robert Killins Jr. said.

The prospect of a $250 million stadium in a predominantly black neighborhood still pocked with poverty raised the specter of gentrification and the prospect of residents being driven away just as it invited them to think about the growth a large new investment could bring.

The team and a group of West End representatives spent over nine hours negotiating before they arrived at a mutually satisfactory community benefits agreement May 16. The agreement included promises the team will invest in community improvement initiatives and hold job fairs for those who live in the West End, among others.

Some still feel a twinge of trepidation.

"Much as I think this is great development for it because I have heard of things that have happened in the community, I had my own concerns," West End Community Council treasurer Jemelle Howard said Tuesday.

However, as he presented the renderings to the council on Tuesday, team president Jeff Berding said the team was working hard to be "inclusive" and respond to West Enders' questions as well as their wishes. For Howard, it helped.

"Seeing the things that the design committee wanted to see, hearing the feedback that it was considered, it makes it seem like our voice is being heard," she said.

The team will also present plans to the Cincinnati City Council on Nov. 19. The team expects to make changes to the design before construction begins next year.

"We believe our West End stadium will be a catalyst for the neighborhood, but also help position Cincinnati as a 'City on the Rise' on both a national and international scale," Berding said in a written statement.

The team aims to have the stadium open in March 2021.