Patience required as FC Cincinnati supporters grow into the West End

Bryan Weigel reflects on the evolution of the matchday atmosphere for FC Cincinnati supporters at Nippert Stadium and cautions that patience will be needed as fans get used to TQL Stadium and the West End area.

Photo Credit: Bryan Weigel

I remember the first FC Cincinnati match at Nippert Stadium like it was yesterday. While it was a glorious memory, the supporter experience vastly changed from that moment to the final home match in 2019 (sorry 2020).

We gathered up at a now-closed Brass Tap, which while a great pregame venue, was way too small for the growing Pride. The march was tiny in comparison at that time with the Pride gathering after at U Square. After their march up the hill from Rhinegeist, Die Innenstadt met the Pride and continued to Nippert. We thought it was huge! 

The match experience that day was valiant with Bjorn and Fox banging their hearts out on the bass drum with the Dad of the Bailey (Chipp) refreshing their many broken drumsticks. The supporters group leaders were desperately trying to get people to chant what seemed like the same five or seven songs over and over. And let me be clear. That was okay and wonderful. What a glorious experience at the time.

The rapid growth of the supporters groups, the desire to compete with other traveling supporters (yes you Louisville City) and the creativity of some special people shaped the Bailey into one of the greatest supporter sections in the country. The Nippert experience was crafted by more than the on-field product. I’d argue these supporters made it what it was.

Special people like Max, Darin, Bill, Ronny, Bob, Tiffany, Pete, Alex, Abbey, Brendon, Dan, Kevin, Chris W, Matt, Jessi, Todd, Andrew, Melissa, Josh, Stephen, Chris M, Payne, Ryan, Jared, David, Claire, Timo, Blake, Schindler, Adam, Jeremy, Christina, Jamie, Colin, Cathy, Matt, the Cincy Super Fan Tom Grabo and countless other shaped that experience and laid the groundwork for what the experience in and around TQL Stadium could be like. 

While the Day One experience was enjoyable, these people improved, amplified and did one helluva job in a college football stadium. And while many things are about to change we owe these people our thanks in shaping our supporter culture.

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Now comes the time for all of us to get creative again and help shape the next wave of the supporter history.

This first season is going to feel a lot like Year One in Nippert. We are going to have to settle into our new pre game “homes.” A lot of us will have to listen really hard and pick up both old and new chants alike since our pipes are a bit rusty. Heck, even my most favorite experience, the in-stadium march is going to be different and possibly might not exist. And again, that is okay!

We all need to band together and help create new traditions in and around the stadium.

I can’t wait to battle for spots in the beer line at a new venue yet will remember the amazing times we had next to the grills or in the beer hall at Mecklenburg Gardens. By the way, my family has gone to that Cincinnati treasure on many occasions outside of FCC games. I don’t think we would have if not for DI and the bar’s amazing buy-in to the supporter experience. Truly grateful.

Please remember that while this year will be fun for the new stadium, it took us four to five years to get where we did in Nippert despite the challenges. The march up Short Vine and down Charlton took so much work and organization not only from the SGs but the local police. Day One, we might not have the same buy-in from the city leadership, but trust me, people will be working on it to get it to the level we all hope. 

This project is bigger and newer, and as a fan you will have more options. Sometimes those additional options inject more confusion instead of less, so please be patient, or jump in and help! Enjoy it! How many of you remember what seemed like 1,000 fans packing Ladder 19 only for there to be two bathrooms.

We all know the club is behind on the stadium. If you went in last week it was clearly obvious. Yet the stadium was still killer. Things will evolve this year and in the future. I prefer the term orchestrated chaos. Help push through this chaos and see what new things we create.

I am very excited for what’s ahead. Thank you to all who built this club and all who will carry the flag forward. Onward to TQL Stadium!

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