After winning their bid in late May to become the 24th team in MLS, then signing their first MLS players in Fanendo Adi and Fatai Alashe in late July, FC Cincinnati celebrated another benchmark Wednesday with the official groundbreaking on their new training facility.
While MLS competition in Cincinnati is still several months away. But for coach Alan Koch, the event provided an important reminder that the demands of the first division will be knocking on the door sooner than later.
“It doesn’t feel real yet,” said Koch, who has already guided FCC’s USL side to clinching a postseason berth in 2018. “It will feel real when we actually come out and see the fields in place, or we actually get to move into first our temporary offices and then into the final facility. But this makes it tangible.”
The full facility is scheduled to open next August. However, Koch’s first team will make its home in temporary facilities at the site of the permanent training center, with the three playing surfaces expected to be ready to use by the time the club returns from its preseason.
We’re proud to announce that we are enhancing our partnership with @fccincinnati as the title sponsor of the Mercy Health Training Center, FC Cincinnati’s dedicated team training facility as an @MLS team. #FCCincy https://t.co/xA2ZTul1cs pic.twitter.com/bTwPGxV16f— Mercy Health (@mercy_health) September 19, 2018
And while the club will continue to make its matchday home at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium for two seasons, construction at the site in suburban Milford, Ohio, will provide a visible reinforcement that a new era is coming.
“It’s going to be exciting,” said club owner and CEO Carl H. Linder III, “To drop by here at least once every couple weeks and just see how, what the transformation is from what we’re looking at, the pile of dirt today, to this marvelous training facility, that’s going to be one of the finest, I feel, within the MLS.”
Cincinnati have one of the shorter expansion-to-opening-match timelines of any MLS team in history. But days like Wednesday allow the club to continue crucial logistical planning that comes in ramping up to the MLS opening date.
“We’re getting very, very close in terms of planning how we’re going to train,” Koch said. “We know where we’re going to go in terms of our preseason, but coming back here to our new home is something we’re incredibly excited to embrace.”
Said club GM and president Jeff Berding: “We’re going to have a team come spring, so we better have a place for them to train. And the pitches will be first-class, major league level, right out of the gate.”