Major League Soccer’s newest venue staged its first game yesterday (Sunday) as FC Cincinnati opened TQL Stadium with a 3-2 defeat against Inter Miami.

The 26,000-seat stadium has been built at a cost of $250m (£177m/€206m), with work having been completed earlier this month. TQL Stadium is located between two of the city’s historic neighbourhoods – Over-the-Rhine and West End – and is intended to be an “Ambassador to the Queen City”.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only around 6,000 fans were permitted to attend yesterday’s match, which did not go to plan for the home team. FC Cincinnati was 2-0 down after 38 minutes and although the home team rallied to score two goals in the second half, Inter Miami claimed the three points with Gonzalo Higuain netting the winner five minutes from the end.

Alvaro Barreal scored FC Cincinnati’s first goal at the new stadium and praised the atmosphere, which manager Jaap Staam described as “fantastic”.

TQL Stadium was designed by Populous and broke ground in December 2018. 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.

Total Quality Logistics (TQL) acquired naming rights to the stadium in April as part of a multi-year deal. The agreement grants the Cincinnati-based company exterior and interior signage at TQL Stadium, along with a seating zone, branded bar area and extensive opportunities for employee engagement.

TQL Stadium is the first of three new MLS venues that will open this summer. Columbus Crew is scheduled to move into its new home on July 3, while Austin FC’s Q2 Stadium will stage its first game on June 16.

Elsewhere in Cincinnati, the city’s Major League Baseball team, the Reds, has been given the green light to open Great American Ball Park at full capacity from June 2.

The news comes after Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ended the state’s COVID-19 health orders amid falling infection rates and the continued roll-out of vaccinations. Mask wearing will continue to be recommended at Great American Ball Park but it will not be mandated.

The timeline laid out by Governor DeWine included incentives for Ohioans to get vaccinated and the Reds are offering a $10 vaccination ticket for Monday to Thursday games for the remainder of the 2021 regular season.

Great American Ball Park is currently able to open at 40% capacity. The Reds will become the latest MLB team to open its stadium at full capacity, joining the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins.

Image: FC Cincinnati