July 12, 2020

FC Cincinnati's West End Stadium Hits a Construction Milestone. See the Progress.

On July 9, FC Cincinnati raised the final steel beam making up the structure of its $250 million, 26,000-seat Major League Soccer stadium. Next, it's on to interior work, finishing parking facilities, the stadium's grand staircase and other construction ahead of the stadium's slated opening date in April next year. Team President Jeff Berding says the global coronavirus pandemic made sourcing some construction material challenging and necessitated some adjustments for worker safety, but that contractors Turner Construction were able to rearrange some scheduled work to keep the project on track. No employees were furloughed due to the pandemic, Berding says. Among the stadium's highlights, according to Berding — a fan section, called The Bailey, that is twice the size of FC Cincinnati's current fan section at University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium. The stadium will also sport the widest scoreboard of any soccer-specific stadium in the country and a sweeping, 30-foot-tall grand staircase that will welcome fans off Central Parkway. There will also be a beer garden on the stadium's east side, club seating options at a range of prices and more. The team is currently building a 400-space parking garage under the site of the staircase. Land just north of the stadium will host another 850-car garage constructed by Hamilton County at a cost of roughly $10 million and a parking lot that could host future development. That land previously held apartment buildings housing more than a dozen tenants, who were relocated. Another large building north of the stadium once occupied by Tri-State Wholesale Building Supplies will become commercial space, Berding says. Berding highlighted the fact that a Turner Construction hiring program has employed more than a dozen West End residents on the stadium construction team and trained a number of others for other construction jobs. He also pointed out that the team has spent $160 million in construction costs with small businesses, minority-owned or women-owned businesses. The pandemic has added new layers of uncertainty to the complicated construction process, but team officials say they're confident the project will be complete on time and ready for soccer. "We took reductions, starting with me," Berding says. "This is a long-term investment. This year is going to suck, but this is a long-term investment, and our owners understand that." Should the pandemic still be an issue next spring, the team has taken measures to minimize risk, he says. "We've made some design accommodations — things in the restrooms and concessions, ticketless entrance, things of that nature — to reduce contact. And we'll operate the building differently to keep it cleaner. At the end of the day, if we're only allowed X number of people, we'll only have X number of people. Our hope is, of course, that at some point after the first of the year there's a vaccine and we're here in the spring. But we've juggled the pandemic without incident and taken it very seriously. We've planned as much as we can plan, and now we're saying our prayers just like everyone else."
Photos by CityBeat Staff/Provided
Scroll down to view images
Progress on FC Cincinnati's West End stadium, looking north
CityBeat Staff/Provided
Progress on FC Cincinnati's West End stadium, looking north
Crews July 9 place the final steel beam for FC Cincinnati's coming West End stadium 110 feet above ground level Photo: From provided video
CityBeat Staff/Provided
Crews July 9 place the final steel beam for FC Cincinnati's coming West End stadium 110 feet above ground level
Photo: From provided video
The site of a coming 850-space parking garage Hamilton County is building north of the coming stadium. Land just east of the parking garage once occupied by relocated tenants will be a parking lot until further development plans are finalized.
CityBeat Staff/Provided
The site of a coming 850-space parking garage Hamilton County is building north of the coming stadium. Land just east of the parking garage once occupied by relocated tenants will be a parking lot until further development plans are finalized.
West End Community Council President Keith Blake and other guests throw ceremonial shovels of dirt at the groundbreaking of FC Cincinnati's Major League Soccer stadium
CityBeat Staff/Provided
West End Community Council President Keith Blake and other guests throw ceremonial shovels of dirt at the groundbreaking of FC Cincinnati's Major League Soccer stadium
A view from the stadium's south side overlooking downtown
CityBeat Staff/Provided
A view from the stadium's south side overlooking downtown
FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding surveys the area that will become fan section The Bailey, which will have 3,100 seats
CityBeat Staff/Provided
FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding surveys the area that will become fan section The Bailey, which will have 3,100 seats
The future site of the West End stadium's grand staircase, which will rise 30 feet off of Central Parkway. The location is also the site of a 400-car garage FC Cincinnati is building.
CityBeat Staff/Provided
The future site of the West End stadium's grand staircase, which will rise 30 feet off of Central Parkway. The location is also the site of a 400-car garage FC Cincinnati is building.
Construction has started on the stadium's concession stands and restroom facilities
CityBeat Staff/Provided
Construction has started on the stadium's concession stands and restroom facilities
A view from the stadium looking out over housing in the West End. While other sides of the structure will feature fins and an LED lighting display, the stadium's west side will be solid glass and will not contain lighting elements in an effort to keep neighborhood disruption to a minimum.
CityBeat Staff/Provided
A view from the stadium looking out over housing in the West End. While other sides of the structure will feature fins and an LED lighting display, the stadium's west side will be solid glass and will not contain lighting elements in an effort to keep neighborhood disruption to a minimum.
The future site of The Bailey, FC Cincinnati's fan section. The Bailey will have 3,100 seats — twice the number at University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium, where the team currently plays.
CityBeat Staff/Provided
The future site of The Bailey, FC Cincinnati's fan section. The Bailey will have 3,100 seats — twice the number at University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium, where the team currently plays.