FC Cincinnati will soon find itself a part of Major League Soccer, after a deal was announced on Tuesday evening that would see the Ohioan team become the newest expansion team in the league. The team will officially become a part of the MLS soccer roster in 2019.
The news is unsurprising to many fans who have kept track of Cincinnati’s role in MLS thus far; after all, the city recently announced it would be working with FC Cincinnati to build a new stadium, which was once upon a time thought to be an impossibility thanks to the political and economic cost of doing so. The $200 million stadium project will nonetheless go forward, per The Cincinnati Enquirer, in a deal very likely to help buoy the newest MLS expansion team’s attendance record as they join the league in 2019.
Carl Lindner III, owner of the team and heir to his famous father of the same name who was renowned throughout Cincinnati for his economic and charity work, commented about how important the addition of FC Cincinnati would be for the city’s identity.
“[My father] would be so proud and so excited that our family had an opportunity to create another legacy for the community here,” Lindner III said, per the Enquirer.
FC Cincinnati has been playing in the lower-division of the United Soccer League since 2016, and the team has constantly surpassed attendance expectations. According to the Chicago Tribune, just last year alone the team averaged more than 21,000 fans at Nippert Stadium. Traditionally, the loyalty and expansion rate of the fanbase is one of the key drivers of a new team’s acceptance, given that it’s so important for ticket sales and the securing of new stadiums in the future.
The rising popularity of the team will no doubt be added to by the decision to enlist it as the MLS’ newest expansion team, especially since it will be joining the league in 2019, a year sooner than most other recently announced members. Cincinnati’s ascendance into the world of MLS was largely unexpected even a few years ago, but MLS commissioner Don Garber made it clear at the announcement ceremony that Cincinnati will soon be one of the best cities in the nation for soccer fans.
“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,” Garber said, per ESPN.