When the West End was chosen as the location for the new FC Cincinnati soccer stadium back in 2018, the idea of Central Parkway lined with bars and restaurants wasn’t far behind.
One of the first will be soccer-themed sports bar The Pitch Cincy, located directly across from the recently renamed TQL stadium. FCC will be playing their first home match of the 2021 Major League Soccer season — and their first game in the new stadium — on May 16. The Pitch is slated to open its doors the day before, on May 15.
Bar co-owners Keyur Joshi, Kidus Tadele and Ohm Patel signed the lease for the 8,000-square foot space in November 2020. Luminaut, a local architecture and design firm that worked on Over-the-Rhine's Nostalgia Wine & Jazz Lounge and Standard Beer, was brought on not long after.
“What (is) important in sports, whether it’s soccer, football, baseball, it’s the energy in the stadium. And with the stadium directly across, we wanted to make sure that energy was brought across the street into the space,” says Luminaut's Amanda Searfoss, The Pitch's lead project designer. “We didn’t want a sticky old bar vibe. We wanted to bring the life of the (field), so the patterns, the textures, the energy.”
TQL Stadium is located at 1500 Central Parkway and The Pitch is at 1430 Central Parkway, housed in the former two-story Metropolitan Baptist Church space. Luminaut's Jeremiah Hahn, lead architect, worked with Searfoss to transform the building.
Walking into The Pitch, one of the first things you notice is the artificial turf on the ceiling, echoing TQL Stadium's field. (A "pitch" is another name for the field upon which soccer is played.) Other designs are inspired by patterns from FCC’s jerseys and fan apparel. For example, the second floor features a scarf wall. Another wall is dedicated to general Cincinnati sports memorabilia.
And yet another wall of The Pitch is literally TVs, spanning the first and second floor. Joshi says the two-story "4K Samsung Video Wall" is 9 feet wide and 7 feet tall.
In a follow-up email, he says the bar has "every soccer and sports package that is out there to show Champions League; MLS Direct Kick; English Premier League on Peacock; NBA League Pass; NFL Sunday Ticket; Spanish, Italian and South American Leagues on Sling TV; ESPN+ for all the German and other leagues; MLB TV."
And if that wasn't enough screen time for you, The Pitch has another 50 TVs spread throughout.
"We are trying to give the best experience for any sport, not just soccer," Joshi says. "Yes, our location is next to a soccer stadium, but we will be rooting and supporting all of our local teams — Reds, Bengals, Cyclones, USL (Kings Hammer FC), golf, etc. And, most importantly, customers are empowered to request their favorite match or event, whether it be the Olympics, women’s NCAA, women’s volleyball or any pop-culture events. If you want to watch the Grammy’s on a big-screen, The Pitch Cincy will be the place as well."
While a section of the second floor has been removed to make space for the aforementioned TV wall, the rest stands as another bar space and entryway to the coveted rooftop. From that elevated viewpoint, patrons will almost be able to see into the stadium.
Joshi, Tadele and Patel, who — along with three other partners — opened Cobblestone OTR in November 2018, saw the opportunity for a sports bar by the FCC stadium last year.
“It was a combination of seeing an opportunity and then all of us living in OTR and just wanting to be part of (FCC),” Joshi says.
The Pitch’s second floor and connected rooftop has already been booked for private events like graduation parties, rehearsal dinners and Fantasy Football drafts.
The Pitch won’t be serving food, instead focusing on local craft beers, cocktails on-tap and a selection of wine. The alley behind The Pitch is set up to accommodate two food trucks, so patrons will be able to step outside and order if they get hungry. (If you own a food truck and you're interested in parking at The Pitch, you can apply at thepitchcincy.com/food-truck-application.)
While construction is ongoing on The Pitch and on Central Parkway outside TQL Stadium, the May 16 home game date is the goal in everyone’s mind. Even if you can’t score tickets, a cold beer and good company at The Pitch will be your next best option. With front windows, a rooftop patio and a marquee of televisions, you can’t miss any of the action.
The Pitch Cincy is located at 1430 Central Parkway, West End/OTR. For more info, visit thepitchcincy.com.