FC Cincinnati Officials Unveil West End Stadium Design

The coming stadium will have a unique shell made of 513 fins designed to allow visibility into the structure from its east side

Jul 16, 2019 at 2:53 pm
FC Cincinnati Officials Unveil West End Stadium Design
FC Cincinnati/Populous

FC Cincinnati officials today unveiled designs for the team's $250 million Major League Soccer stadium in Cincinnati's West End.

The design for the exterior shell of the stadium features 513 external fins with LED lighting that will create a distinctive wave-like structure and allow visibility into the stadium. The structure's west side, which faces the West End's residential areas, will have more traditional construction and lighting scheme to abate noise and light concerns and blend better into the neighborhood. The stadium will also have a 360-degree canopy covering all seating in the structure and further shielding noise and light, team officials say.

The stadium was designed by Populous, a New York-based architecture firm that has drawn up a number of other MLS stadiums around the country.

“There’s a dedication and authenticity to soccer in Cincinnati that rivals any city in the U.S.," Populous Senior Principal Jonathan Mallie said. "Our design for FC Cincinnati harnesses the energy of the fans to create a world-class soccer atmosphere.”

First Look at FC Cincinnati Design for its West End Stadium.

The stadium's design took into consideration a number of fan requests, team representatives say. The entryway will feature a 100-foot-wide stairway from Central Parkway for the large "March to the Match" processions dedicated fans undertake before every game. Its concourses will be 30 feet wide — twice the width of those found at the team's current home at Nippert Stadium.

"We incorporated a lot of research and first-person feedback from fans and executives around the league with the goal of setting a new standard for both design and experience," FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding said. "We firmly believe we’ve not only matched the league’s best, but pushed the bar further and will deliver a superior fan experience for our incredible fan base. A strong reason why we’re in this position as a first-year MLS team just four years after our founding is because of the amazing, visible pride and exuberance of our fan base. West End Stadium was designed to showcase and harness that passion and create an extraordinary atmosphere and home-field advantage for our team. We cannot wait to start playing in West End Stadium in 2021.”

The closest of the stadium's 26,000-26,500 seats will be 15 feet from the playing field, and the farthest will be 130 feet from the action. A section for clubs devoted to the team, called The Bailey, will feature 3,100 "safe-standing" seats on the stadium's north side — twice the number at Nippert. The stadium will also feature 4,500 premium seats in four sections with distinct amenities and services, as well as 59 private suites.

The stadium's interior will also feature artwork and potentially interactive displays about the history of the West End, one of the city's oldest neighborhoods and long the center of African-American life in Cincinnati.

Jessica Fitzwilson of Turner Construction, the construction contractor for the stadium, said today that the company estimates more than 300 construction jobs will be created by the project. The company says it is working with West End-based social services organization CityLink to hire West End residents for as many jobs as possible. The team says it is on track to meet 25-percent inclusion standards for women- and minority-owned businesses when it comes to subcontracting opportunities.

The Cincinnati Planning Commission will likely consider and vote to approve the final design next month. One question that remains — whether noise from the stadium will disrupt performances at nearby Music Hall. Groups that perform in the Cincinnati landmark say they will assess the new stadium plans. 

“We appreciate the efforts made by Populous to keep noise intrusion in mind,” a statement today from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Opera and others connected to Music Hall said. “As stewards of the city-owned Music Hall, the venue’s management and performing resident companies are firmly committed to protecting the access, acoustics and integrity of this iconic venue, which recently underwent a $143 million renovation.”

The team is working to finish the stadium before the beginning of the MLS season in March 2021.