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TQL Stadium ready for MLS debut

Populous has said TQL Stadium will offer a “one-of-a-kind stadium experience” following completion of the new home of Major League Soccer (MLS) club FC Cincinnati.

Located between two of the Ohio’s city’s historic neighbourhoods – Over-the-Rhine and West End – the 26,000-seat stadium is intended to be an “Ambassador to the Queen City” while giving fans a spectacular game-day experience, inside and out.

FC Cincinnati’s ownership group has privately funded the $250m (£180m/€208.4m) construction cost of the stadium. A formal groundbreaking was held in December 2018, with the final design from Populous being unveiled in July 2019.

The design of TQL Stadium sought to harness the energy of a dedicated fan base to bring a world-class soccer experience to Cincinnati. The stadium is wrapped by over 500 vertically-oriented aluminium fins, each fully programmable through a state-of-the-art integrated LED video display system.

By night, the exterior comes alive offering a dynamic video display that showcases the club’s brand, atmospheric graphics and match-day messaging. This feature was debuted back in March. “TQL Stadium serves not only as a home for FC Cincinnati but a canvas to express its evolving identity on a global stage,” said Jonathan Mallie, senior principal of Populous.

“We worked closely with ownership to create a truly remarkable, one-of-a-kind stadium experience that will serve to raise the profile of the team, the league and the city. From the bold graphics of the programmable LED integrated façade to the continuity of the seating bowl and the wall of sound created by the safe standing supporters’ section on game day, the iconic experience of TQL Stadium will be unrivalled as it serves its electric fan base.”

Global consultancy Buro Happold provided structural engineering services and Elevar served as the local associate architect. Turner Construction served as the general contractor. By day, the architectural fins which define the exterior façade create the stadium’s signature form – a singular twisting motion that aims to signify the tension between two teams about to take the pitch.

When viewed straight on, they provide a glimpse into TQL Stadium. Inside, fans enjoy a 360-degree continuous seating bowl with no breaks, similar to the sport’s most iconic European venues. The Bailey, FC Cincinnati’s supporters’ section, is situated in the North stand.

Its 3,170 fans standing on a 34-degree slope, among the steepest in MLS, will seek to create an imposing wall of sound over the pitch below and increase the intimacy of this seating section. Above The Bailey, TQL Stadium boasts the widest video board in any North American soccer-specific stadium.

While engaging and energising the city, the project always had a priority to be a good neighbour throughout the design process. The height and orientation of TQL Stadium were designed to minimise shadows cast on the surrounding neighbourhood while the programmable LED façade primarily faces east to respect nearby residents to the west.

The premium spaces at TQL Stadium aim to reflect the city’s rich architectural heritage. The Tunnel Club uses materials such as teak wood and warm tones reminiscent of institutions like the Cincinnati Music Hall. The back shelving of the club’s bar was inspired by the five-story stacks of the Old Cincinnati Library.

The First Financial Club, inspired by Over-The-Rhine and the city’s brewing traditions, is designed with a fresh take on the conventional beer hall. A two-story, 1,000-square-foot brick feature wall anchors the space, reminiscent of the labyrinth of 19th-century beer vaults that lie beneath the city.

“We created an experience at TQL Stadium that transcends the functional and technical aspects of the building,” said Isabelle Rijnties, lead interior designer for the project. “By carefully considering how users will experience the space, we created an emotional connection to the event, building and city through interior details.

“While the seating bowl is where fans experience the raw energy of the live event, and considerable attention is paid to that element, the aesthetic of premium and public spaces further enriches the experience of every fan.”

FC Cincinnati is due to play its first home game at TQL Stadium on May 16, with Inter Miami the visitors. Total Quality Logistics acquired naming rights to the facility last month, with the club yesterday (Tuesday) signing technology company Workhorse Group as the facility’s latest sponsor.

Headquartered in Loveland, Ohio, Workhorse specialises in electric delivery vehicles, delivery drones and telematics. The multi-year deal with FC Cincinnati represents the company’s first sports-related sponsorship, with naming rights to a stadium landmark forming part of the agreement.

The ‘Workhorse Gate’, located on the north end of the stadium, will be one of four main entrances to the facility. The partnership also includes ‘Workhorse Charging Stations’ for electric vehicles parking in the stadium’s East Parking Garage throughout the year. Workhorse will have broadcast-visible signage, alignment around a sustainability platform and other branding through FCC channels.

Images: Populous