Why MLS expansion could be bad for FC Cincinnati

Valencia CF's coach, Marcelino, watched his team beat FC Cincinnati 2-0. The 23,114 people that flooded Nippert probably did not get exactly what they came for. Beloved players like Djiby Fall and Harrison Delbridge both did not play. While the team lost, according to Alexa Philippou of the Enquirer, the Valencia coach still has high hopes for FCC's MLS expansion and "hopes that FCC will play in the MLS as soon as possible."

That has been the topic looming FC Cincinnati. MLS expansion. When? Where? In my opinion, the expansion comes with a greater risk for FCC than many think.

The vast majority of people are for an MLS team to come from the short-lived FC Cincinnati. It would bring in new revenue, new excitement, and another professional team to appease the Queen City. But, why should FCC make the transition to MLS? 

Is the only point to be playing in the highest level of soccer? 

While an MLS team would be fantastic, USL has been terrific for the club. They can fill the seats with cheap tickets, pack the Bailey, and almost sell out when big teams come to town. 

Becoming an MLS team would come with a raise in ticket prices. Even when we bring a big, yet locally unknown, international club in, we don't fill up all the seats. Yes, it was a Monday night, but $18 to fill a general admin seat might already be too high to put some people at Nippert when they can just stream it at home. The price of the Valencia game is the price for a normal Wednesday game for the Columbus Crew.

On our Twitter, we had a talk (and agreed with) with this lady. The more games, the more FCC expects from its dedicated supporters. At what point do some of those dedicated fans decide to stay in the comfort of their homes?

Spiking the ticket prices would mean fans do not want to come, it is something we have seen over and over again. Cincinnatians will attach to something new, and after the unique feeling wears off, they drop to some of the league's worst attendance.

Both the Reds and Bengals, who were once the rave around Cincinnati, are in the bottom half -- 25th for the Reds and 29th for the Bengals -- in attendance in their respective leagues. The Bengals, while not a playoff team last season, had been a quality team over the last half a decade.

What we have in the USL is special. The excitement that we bring to Nippert and the revenue that fans bring in is unheard of for a USL team. Why not keep it?

What if FC Cincinnati is not a good MLS team? In some cases, even the best MLS teams struggle to bring in fans, let alone 20,000+.

This article was filled with speculation about the team, about the ownership, and about the fan's dedication, but they are good points to be brought up.

The team, if everything goes well, should be granted an expansion bid, but is that what we truly want? Personally, I'd seize the opportunity if we are given a bid, but playing several more seasons in the USL would certainly not hurt FCC.


  1. Nailed it. I've been saying this since the push for MLS began. We've been die-hard fans. We reserved our season tickets the day it was announced that Cincinnati was getting a USL soccer team.

    With MLS, the tickets prices will undoubtedly jump. We paid $255 a piece for a pair of season tickets for this season and last. If you look at Columbus Crew's website, they are offering a 5-game pack of tickets. If you get two tickets for 5 games, it comes out to $330. How much would season tickets be? There's no way I would pay thousands of dollars for MLS season tickets.

    Next, they'll be playing in a new stadium most likely be lacking in all the charm of Nippert. And that new stadium will be dropped in Newport or Okayley, neither of which have any restaurants or bars in walking distance of the games. The only location that has existing infrastructure is the West End in OtR or Nippert. And none of the new proposed locations have good parking options. Leaving fans to pregame ala Crew style by just sitting in a parking lot.

    And by the time FC|C is granted admission to MLS there will be what 35? 38 teams in MLS? With that many teams, the chances of being a consist playoff team are not good. Plus Cincy is always going to be a small market town with small market teams with small market budgets. It will be tough to be competitive.

    We love our FC Cincinnati. Especially as they are right now. In the USL playing at Nippert. But we cast a very wary eye forward to a potential future of expensive MLS soccer games in a stadium on the outskirts. And I don't know if we'd be season ticket holders any longer. We'll be watching the matches on TV, if they're broadcast and not blacked out, talking about the good old days of USL soccer at Nippert Stadium.


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