COVID-19 forces changes to FC Cincinnati as club copes with economic environment

FC Cincinnati Chief Operating Officer Dennis Carroll again finds himself steering another new MLS franchise through a financial crisis. Although the new West End Stadium is scheduled to open on time, other projects have been halted, Carroll said in a video conference on Thursday.

Photo Credit: FC Cincinnati/Populous

Dennis Carroll came to FC Cincinnati in January of 2019 after spending 10 years with the Philadelphia Union. After helping the Union rebound from the Great Recession, he again finds himself steering another new MLS franchise through a financial crisis while taking on massive investment in club infrastructure.

As FC Cincinnati’s Chief Operating Officer, Carroll oversees all of the club’s business-side operations, including West End Stadium financing and construction management.

With the fast-changing pace of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, the club has had to “pivot off older plans,” Carroll said during a video conference call on Thursday. While the club has had to tighten its belt across the board, he specifically mentioned that FC Cincinnati had to pause all additions to the Mercy Health Training Center. These could have included an additional field or indoor facilities.

The West End Stadium construction is still moving ahead according to schedule. Turner Construction is leading the project to build the new home of the club and has avoided supply chain issues so far. Carroll mentioned the club anticipates rolling out ticketing information for the 2021 season starting mid-May for premium seats.

The club has had to postpone plans to add 10-11 members to the front office staff. Members of the executive team have volunteered to take up to a 15% cut in salary for an indefinite period of time as the club adjusts during the crisis.

While FC Cincinnati and its ownership group have looked at options available to them by state and federal governments, they did not take part in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“We are blessed and fortunate to have such a great ownership group led by Carl (Lindner III), Meg Whitman recently, and Scott Farmer and others,” Carroll said. Their message was “let’s continue as-is and we’ll figure it out as we go without PPP”.

Carroll did not have an update as to the current situation for the 2020 MLS season. The club did mention one specific match cancellation. The first FC Cincinnati media game set to take place later this season will be pushed to 2021.

@bradleysweigel for @CincySoccerTalk

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