CINCINNATI — FC Cincinnati kicked off its tenure at the brand new TQL Stadium with a loss Sunday night, but that didn't stop Cincinnatians from filling the stadium with fans and energy.
"You know, even with only 6,000 I think they let in, the energy was really strong," said Ken Rieman, a fan at the game.
A limited crowd capacity still couldn't keep FC Cincinnati fans quiet at the Sunday afternoon game. The stadium opened to fans for the first time for the home opener against Inter Miami FC.
"To be inside for the first time, to hear the roar of the crowd, even a small crowd, when the team takes the pitch is incredible," said Ted Leugers, a fan at the game.
While the home opener had limited capacity available for fans, new COVID-19 guidance led the organization to announce it would be able to nearly fill capacity for the stadium for the home game against the Colorado Rapids on June 19.
"It's really great timing, especially with vaccines coming out and all. I think people feel more comfortable coming out, which I think really helps people get excited about it," said Amy Okin, an FC Cincinnati fan.
The new stadium and capacity allowance increases have generated a feeling of hope for FC Cincinnati fans as the new season offers a clean slate after the 2019 season saw a league-worst record and 2020 wreaked havoc on both the schedule and the coaching staff.
Fans said they were impressed with the brand new, soccer-specific stadium and, despite a loss to Inter Miami FC, hope it signals a bright future for the club.
"I think it gives you a home," said Jack Frederick, a fan of the team. "I think it gives you some place to be all the time. It makes the team more of a unit and the fans more of a unit."
While FC Cincinnati limited attendance to 6,000 fans for Sunday's home opener, it hopes it can bring in its full 26,000 seat capacity by June 19.
FC Cincinnati fans have long been proud of their ability to fill seats for the orange and blue, smashing attendance records both during the team's tenure in the USL and in 2019, their inaugural year in the MLS. FC Cincinnati averaged more than 25,000 fans per game in 2018.
"I can't wait for the stadium to be completely full," said Rieman. "The electricity is here. Beautiful place too."