Tuesday evening was an incredible moment for everyone who worked so hard to make an MLS team in Cincinnati a reality. We were incessantly mocked online – some of it deserved – for our announcement in 2015 and our ownership’s ambition for an MLS team. That ridicule largely subsided when we proved that Cincinnati was ready to support a professional soccer team, though many outside of Cincinnati still didn’t believe the dreams of a top flight team were attainable. This week proved what we all knew the whole time – we had the pieces to win the MLS bid. We had the fan support, the ownership, and the vision to make it all happen. This week is one to celebrate. Though Cincinnati may not have been the preferred market for MLS at the beginning, it was the fan support that brought us across the finish line.
We did it!
But now the question is: what comes next?
In nine months, we will be playing our first MLS match. I won’t go into what the team must do to create a competitive roster, I’ll leave that to the professionals like Orange & Blue Press, Cincinnati Soccer Talk, and Pat Brennan at the Enquirer.
What we are primarily concerned about is how our move to MLS affects our group, and how our group can affect our move to MLS.
How our move to MLS affects Die Innenstadt
For the time being, nothing changes on the outside for Die Innenstadt. We will still be operating pregame events at Mecklenburg Gardens, hosting away watch parties at rhinehaus, and creating a positive impact on our community through charitable giving and volunteer events.
Some smaller things may change with our first two years in MLS while at Nippert Stadium. We may have some changes with smoke policy. We may have some changes with entry procedures at Nippert. And we may have some organizational changes to our group to better prepare for life in MLS. Day-to-day, we don’t expect you to notice many changes for the remainder of the season, and outside of some growing pains, we’ll try to make sure any changes to the gameday atmosphere are positive changes and fully expected.
How Die Innenstadt will impact our move to MLS
Our primary focus for the next 9 months will be ensuring a smooth transition into MLS. We want to hit the ground running in 2019. In addition to our regular meetings with the front office to discuss gameday issues and ideas, we will be working with them to plan for any changes in 2019.
We will advocate on behalf of the fans to maintain affordable ticket prices, merchandise, concessions, etc. Ticket prices will go up with the increase in player salaries, marketing, in-game amenities, and the cost of building a new stadium. But we will do our best to ensure any changes are reasonable – as the team has repeatedly insisted they are committed to.
In addition to changes for the next two years while at Nippert, we will be working with the front office to help plan for the new West End stadium that will tentatively open in 2021. We have already had productive discussions about preliminary details for the new stadium with the other supporter groups. We are committed to a safe standing section for the new supporter section, complete with cup holders and a steep incline. Our goal is to create an atmosphere at the new stadium that is unparalleled in MLS. This is our chance to make a huge, permanent impact on the club.
To accomplish what we are setting out to do, we will need your help along the way. Your input on features in the new stadium will be paramount to providing the best experience possible in the new stadium. The leaders of the supporter groups will not think of everything, and any ideas you have that make things better in a new space will be helpful.
All season long we are also going to continue to need help with various tasks such as staffing the merch table at Mecklenburg Gardens, helping set up banners at the stadium before matches, and volunteering for various events throughout the year. If you are interested in becoming more involved, please reach out to us on Slack or via email. Our Board is elected every year after the conclusion of the season, and if you’re interested in becoming a board member for next year, volunteering at our events is a great way to learn more about the responsibilities involved. Feel free to talk with us about what you think you would like to see in the coming years, and how you think you could impact things going forward.
We’re thrilled that Cincinnati won the MLS bid, and are excited for the new challenges the next few years will bring.