Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber will join FC Cincinnati as the club breaks ground on its new stadium in the West End on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 4 p.m.
Garber has visited Cincinnati several times leading up to the news that FC Cincinnati would join MLS in 2019. Since his appointment as commissioner in 1999, Garber has helped elevate MLS in the United States. His initiatives include attracting high-profile and rising stars like Landon Donovan and Thierry Henry by raising salaries; creating MLS youth development academies; and building stadiums in teams’ local communities.
"In 2001 there were 10 MLS teams, three owners and one soccer stadium," Garber told U.S Soccer. "In 2018, there are 23 teams with Cincinnati, Miami and Nashville joining in the coming years, bringing the total number of owners to 26 and soccer stadiums to 23."
FC Cincinnati will soon begin construction of a new stadium in the West End, which will replace Stargel Stadium at the rear of Taft IT high school.
This news was met with mixed reactions by community and city council members alike when it was first announced in February. Cincinnati City Council Member Tamaya Dennard opposed the terms of the deal, calling it "sad" and said the $100,000 per year for community services in the agreement is not enough for the West End community.
Fellow council members Wendell Young, Greg Landsman and Chris Seelbach agreed.
"The benefit to the community is pretty much in the short term," Young said in April. "The real beneficiaries are the people who own the stadium and will make a lot of money from it."
In a ceremony held Dec. 18, FC Cincinnati will break ground on the new stadium and is inviting the public to hear Garber, a former NFL executive, speak along with FC Cincinnati owner Carl H. Lindner III; FCC President and General Manager Jeff Berding; and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, as well as other community and municipal leaders. Gates will open at 3 p.m. and the first 2,000 attendees will receive commemorative shovels to join in the "breaking of ground."
The ceremony marks the start of construction for the new MLS stadium, which is expected to be complete by March 2021, around the start of the new season.