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A 360-degree canopy and lighted façade will distinguish Cincinnati’s new soccer stadium

The closest seat will be only 15 feet from the field.

August 26, 2019 |

A canopy will cover every seat at the new West End Stadium, where the FC Cincinnati MLS franchise will play its home games in two years. Image: Populous

Foundation work has begun on the $250 million, 26,500-seat West End Stadium in Cincinnati, which when it opens in 2021 will be home to FC Cincinnati, the city’s Major League Soccer franchise.

According to the Cincinnati Inquirer, FC Cincinnati is building its stadium close to downtown in a poor, historically black neighborhood that’s going through a gentrification phase.

Turner Construction in partnership with a local firm Jostin Construction is building the horseshoe-shape stadium. MEIS Architects did the original design of the stadium, and Populous was brought in to make refinements and changes that included expanding the stadium’s canopy to cover every seat.

In response to community objections, Populous has toned down the bright orange lighting initially proposed for the stadium’s roof and exterior. Instead, the building’s wave-like façade now has 513 vertical fins, individually lighted with LEDs to create special effects. FC Cincinnati claims that West End will be the only stadium in the world with this specific feature.

LED lights attached to the tip of 513 fins will light up the facade of West End Stadium, and create opportunities for visual effects. Image: Populous


Working with Populous, Buro Happold, the project’s structural engineer, incorporated extensive public plaza space and a grand entry with a staircase rising 30 feet from the Central Parkway. The wrap-around seating bowl will have a dedicated 3,100-seat safe-standing zone and steeply pitched upper mezzanine. Fifty-nine suite boxes will be located above the main seating area, allowing for continuous fan seating and unobstructed sightlines. The closest seat in the stadium will be only 15 ft from the 110-yard-long field.

“The plans for West End Stadium demonstrate how structural design is intrinsically tied to a core goal of any entertainment project—fostering an atmosphere of excitement,” says Phil Skellorn, one of BuroHappold’s sports and entertainment practice leaders. 

The West End Stadium project dates back to the team’s bid for an MLS expansion franchise in 2016; Cincinnati was on a short list of three expansion cities, and was chosen in early 2018. As part of a land swap with the Cincinnati Public Schools, West End Stadium is located on the site where Taft High School’s football stadium once stood.

FC Cincinnati will play at Nippert Stadium, a football venue on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, until its new facility opens. The team continues to seek a sponsor for the new stadium’s naming rights.  

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