CINCINNATI – FC Cincinnati are looking at a long checklist of tasks to complete ahead of their inaugural Major League Soccer season next year.
Two big items were pushed into progress this week with the unveiling of plans for a $30 million training facility and the announcement of partners who will build, design, manage and finance the club’s $200 million-plus stadium.
However, there is plenty more to come.
“It's been a big week,” FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding said on Friday. “There's a lot going on and a lot to do.”
The training facility plans include the development of a youth academy, which Cincy will begin in some fashion next year.
The club already hired former New York Cosmos Assistant Sporting Director Luke Sassano in March as their technical director, and among his responsibilities will be overseeing youth initiatives. However, the next step, Berding said, is to find an academy director.
“The design and planning for the academy, physically on site, is a part of the work that is underway,” Berding said. “The human part of how we build out our academy, what age groups, who are the coaches, that is a process we are working through right now with Luke Sassano.”
In the first year, the academy likely will be a condensed version and could entail just one age group or multiple age groups. FC Cincinnati expects the training complex to be fully running by July.
There also is work to be done at the club’s temporary home at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, where FC Cincinnati will remain until the new soccer-specific stadium opens in 2021. The club already spent more than $2 million to widen the field last year to meet FIFA standards, and this year FCC purchased digital sponsorship boards, which now back the eastern sideline on game days.
However, there are other issues that need addressed to make the facility ready for MLS play next spring.
“We obviously have a great relationship with the University of Cincinnati, and we're going through the process of working with them now,” Berding said.
Berding said some of the issues the club is looking at – based on discussions with MLS – include new turf, changing the current players’ lounge under the east side of the Bailey into a visitors’ locker room, enhanced technology in the scoreboard rooms and expanding the LED sponsorship boards along the endlines.
The bulk of the improvements would need to be done after UC football season, and the club will be footing the bill.
“It's enough to be affordable, but there is no question we have some enormous projects on tap,” Berding said.