FC Cincinnati has held a ground breaking ceremony for its new stadium, however the Major League Soccer (MLS) expansion franchise still faces a number of hurdles to clear before work can commence in earnest next year.

The team is due to begin playing in MLS in 2019 before moving into the privately-funded $250m (£197.9m/€219.2m) stadium two years later. The Cincinnati Enquirer notes that a number of issues still need to be addressed before March 1, when the stadium’s foundation is due to be poured. Any delay beyond that will risk the 2021 opening target, with the franchise’s lease at its current Nippert Stadium home also due to expire at that time.

The Enquirer notes that FC Cincinnati still needs to agree deals for two important pieces of land for the project, which both currently belong to the city. Parking is also said to be a concern, despite stadium plans outlining more than the minimum 5,300 spaces required under city code. Planning commission approval and the relevant permits are also needed before March.

Nevertheless, MLS commissioner Don Garber said FC Cincinnati’s stadium project is one of the quickest and most streamlined he’s seen come together, but added the caveat that building stadia comes with multiple challenges.

“I mean, it’s not just going to be for the stadium but for this growing community,” Garber told The Enquirer. “We have a number of projects where parking is really hard and you have a beautiful stadium and people can’t get there. That’s a problem. It takes away from the excitement that everybody has after the bloom falls off the rose of being new.”

Architectural firm MEIS has been appointed to design the new facility, which will have a capacity of between 25,500 and 26,000, with Turner Construction to manage construction. The Machete Group will manage all phases of the stadium, with U.S. Bank having signed on as its finance partner.

The stadium’s eye-catching feature will be the use of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), a translucent material that, through LED lighting, can make the building glow and change colour. Dan Meis, founder and managing principal of MEIS, said the feature has been inspired by Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena as a means to highlight Cincinnati as a city of innovation.

“It’s going to be very FC Cincinnati,” Meis said, according to the official MLS website. “We are doing something that someone is going to say, ‘That’s Cincinnati architecture, but it’s really going to scream this club.’ We’re looking at ways… to evoke the colour of the club, whether through the material – which is my preference, to make it really glow orange and come alive. I have always loved Madison Square Garden, where you look at the ceiling and know right away where you are. It has to be a building people identify with.”

Cincinnati was announced as the latest location for an MLS team in May, bringing the total number of franchises to 24 from next season.

Image: FC Cincinnati