Major League Soccer awards expansion team to Cincinnati

Cincinnati has been awarded a Major League Soccer expansion team that will begin play in the 2019 MLS season, Commissioner Don Garber announced today. 

The club, which will continue as FC Cincinnati when it joins MLS, will play at Nippert Stadium until the club’s 21,000-seat soccer stadium in Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood is completed in 2021. 

“Major League Soccer is proud to introduce Cincinnati as our 26th team,” said Commissioner 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.”

Since its first season in the USL in 2016, FC Cincinnati has set attendance records including three crowds of more than 30,000 fans during the club’s run to the semifinals of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. In 2018, the club has surpassed 17,000 season tickets and has so far averaged almost 24,500 fans per game.

“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 FC Cincinnati - located 600 miles east of Kansas City - will play in beginning in 2019.  With the addition of the new MLS team in Cincinnati, 16 clubs have joined MLS since 2005, fulfilling a vision for strategic expansion that has transformed the landscape of professional soccer across North America. 

“The news of Cincinnati joining Major League Soccer makes this a landmark day for our city,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. “I want to thank Commissioner Garber and everyone with MLS for believing in Cincinnati, and I’m delighted that the faith shown in our beautiful city by Carl Lindner and his partners has been rewarded. In MLS, FC Cincinnati and its new world-class soccer stadium in the West End will spur additional economic and cultural growth for our city.”