CINCINNATI — FC Cincinnati hopes to christen its West End stadium with a home opener in May, club president Jeff Berding announced Thursday afternoon.
When in May? He’s not sure. Major League Soccer has yet to release its upcoming season schedule, and no team has exact dates for any of its games.
“Mid-May we will open West End Stadium, the crown jewel of a rising Cincinnati,” Berding wrote in a news release. “Our new home is built by Cincinnati, for Cincinnati, and we can’t wait!”
The team will hold a formal ribbon-cutting and open house for the stadium on May 1, with a special event for season ticket holders the following day.
The $250 million, 26,000-seat stadium broke ground in late 2018 after a high-speed campaign for local government approval in Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The team, then part of the United Soccer League and playing at Nippert Stadium, argue that it would not be accepted into Major League Soccer — the highest and most profitable level of professional men’s soccer in the United States — without a soccer-specific stadium.
Local officials would eventually approve the project, but resistance materialized when the team announced its intentions to place the stadium in the West End neighborhood.
West End community advocates said they worried the construction of a Major League Soccer stadium would damage the surrounding community, which is predominantly Black and low-income, by pushing out longtime residents to create amenities for FC Cincinnati workers and fans.
The team ultimately compromised with West End representatives and secured a site on Central Parkway.