CINCINNATI – USL President Jake Edwards praised FC Cincinnati for the success it had achieved on and off the field in a record-setting inaugural season. The 2016 season saw the club finish third in the USL’s Eastern Conference to earn a berth in the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs and set USL records for single-game and single-season attendance throughout the year.
As FC Cincinnati gears up for its second home opener at Nippert Stadium on Saturday night against current USL Eastern Conference leader Saint Louis FC, the club’s sights are set even higher for 2017.
“They achieved tremendous success,” Edwards told the Cincinnati Business Courier’s Steve Watkins. “It’s a great example of what’s possible. To draw 30,000 for a playoff game, I wouldn’t have thought that was possible.”
Cincinnati’s success has also been reflective of the growing movement within the USL, which has seen major rises in total attendance in each of the past two seasons. The league set a new opening weekend record with almost 60,000 fans in attendance during Week 1’s action after welcoming almost 1.5 million fans during the 2016 USL regular season.
According to Edwards, however, what has happened in Cincinnati has been a game-changer for prospective ownership groups that are looking to join the USL in upcoming seasons.
“Cincinnati has changed the paradigm,” Edwards told Watkins. “When we look at expansion groups, many are looking at bigger stadiums, like 15,000 seats. Four to five years ago, we would’ve said 5,000 seats is as much as you need. Now you need at least need 8,000 to 10,000. Cincinnati showed it’s OK to have a big stadium.”
With Cincinnati having recently topped 12,000 season ticket sales, almost double its base from a season ago, the club appears set to go from strength-to-strength in its second season in the league.