Cincinnati has been awarded a Major League Soccer expansion team. The club, which will continue as FC Cincinnati when it joins MLS, will begin play in the 2019 season at Nippert Stadium at the University of Cincinnati. A proposed 21,000-seat soccer stadium in Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood that will serve as the team’s home stadium is scheduled to be completed in 2021.
Carl Lindner, co-CEO of Cincinnati-based American Financial Group, will serve as FC Cincinnati’s managing owner. Lindner’s partners include Scott Farmer, chair and CEO of Cintas Corp., and George Joseph, president of Joseph Toyota and principal of other automobile dealerships in Greater Cincinnati, as well as members of the Lindner family and other regional business and civic leaders.
“Major League Soccer is proud to introduce Cincinnati as our 26th team,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “The rise of Cincinnati as a passionate soccer market in recent years, coinciding with the city’s growing economy and reputation as a top destination for young professionals makes it an ideal city for our growing league. We congratulate Carl Lindner and his partners, and also the soccer fans of Cincinnati, who have passionately supported FC Cincinnati in the USL.”
FC Cincinnati began its first season in the USL in 2016. In 2018, the club has surpassed 17,000 season tickets and has averaged approximately 24,500 fans per game. The new franchise has also secured corporate support as it recently finalized a partnership with Mercy Health, the largest hospital system in Ohio, to serve as its jersey-front partner in the new season.
“Cincinnati’s selection by Major League Soccer for an expansion team is a triumph for the continued renaissance of this incredible city,” said Lindner. “I have to start by thanking the supporters of FC Cincinnati, because from the beginning they were the foundation of the efforts of our bid to join MLS. We could not have done this without them. This has been a true team effort among the soccer fans, our partners and our civic and corporate leaders. This is a city with a historically deep relationship between the people and its teams, and we are going to take that to even greater heights in MLS. Thank you to Commissioner Garber and all of the league’s owners for their faith in Cincinnati. We’re excited to be part of Major League Soccer’s tremendous future.”
During the coming months, Major League Soccer will announce which conference the new club will begin play in. FC Cincinnati season ticket holders will have priority in seat selection for the team’s inaugural season. Fans without priority will have the option of purchasing prorated 2018 season tickets.