Members of several FC Cincinnati supporters groups got to see inside the team's under-construction stadium in the West End Wednesday. The fans were invited to help install the first row of the section known as "The Bailey."
Unlike the rest of the stadium, The Bailey will feature "safe-standing benches" with safety railings. Fans will stand during the games, but the section will have fold-down benches for when the stadium is hosting other events. Standing supporters sections are popular in soccer, especially in Europe.
"It was a pretty cool experience," says Jared Handra, president of Die Innenstadt, one of the supporters groups. "You could start to visualize what it's going to look like and the steepness of that section specifically and how close it is to the field."
The new Bailey will be able to hold 3,170 fans starting at field level and rising at a steep 34-degree angle on the north side of the stadium. The design will amplify sound from the fans toward the field. There will also be a built-in rigging system for hoisting tifos. (A tifo, pronounced TEE-foh, is any kind of banner or large-scale, coordinated fan display, typically unveiled just prior to kick-off.)
"It was really cool to see something you've been visualizing over the last few months. ... It's something you've thought about and looked at ... and then you finally get to get in there and you can't really wrap your head around it. It was kind of awe-inspiring in that sense."
The $250 million stadium is set to open in spring 2021. Work began in Dec. 2018.
Construction was paused Monday after two "racists incidents" in the past weeks came to light. David Spaulding, Turner Construction vice president and general manager, said the "incidents" - which weren't described - were caused by subcontractors. Spaulding says work will remain stopped until everyone on site undergoes anti-bias training.
"Turner has zero tolerance for racism and hate. We removed the people responsible for these actions from the site and they will not be allowed back," Spaulding said in a statement.