GSG Client FC Cincinnati Welcomes State-of-the-Art Major League Soccer Venue, Elevating Fan Experience and Bringing a new Crown Jewel to Queen City

FC Cincinnati opened the TQL Stadium, a 26,000-seat venue which boasts a striking presence that connects two historic neighborhoods – Over-the-Rhine and West End

FC Cincinnati opened the TQL Stadium, a 26,000-seat venue which boasts a striking presence that connects two historic neighborhoods – Over-the-Rhine and West End – and positions the venue as an “Ambassador to the Queen City” while giving fans a spectacular game-day experience inside and out. FC Cincinnati and its construction management team Turner/Jostin received the “Creating Economic Inclusion with Intention” award from the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and Cincinnati Business Courier. 


TQL Stadium features a one-of-a-kind dynamic LED lighted facade.

The continuous seating bowl of TQL Stadium is designed to harness the noise and energy of the fervent FC Cincinnati fan base.

“We are proud to cut the ribbon to officially open TQL Stadium, an iconic, instantly recognizable, world-class MLS stadium,” said Jeff Berding, president of FC Cincinnati. “TQL stadium will proudly represent Cincinnati across the nation and on the world-stage.”

Raising the Bar in Stadium Design

The design of TQL Stadium intentionally harnesses 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 aluminum fins, each fully programmable through a state-of-the-art integrated LED video display system. By night, the exterior comes alive offering a brilliant dynamic video display that showcases the club’s brand, atmospheric graphics and match-day messaging to energize fans on their approach to the stadium.

This one-of-a-kind stadium experience will 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 unrivaled as it serves its electric fan base.

By day, the architectural fins which define the exterior façade create the stadium’s signature form: a singular twisting motion that signifies the tension between two teams about to take the pitch. When viewed straight on, they provide a glimpse into TQL Stadium, fostering a heightened sense of anticipation for the upcoming match. Inside, fans enjoy a 360-degree continuous seating bowl with no breaks, putting the focus on the pitch, similar to the sport’s most iconic European venues.

The Bailey, FC Cincinnati’s legendary supporters’ section, is situated in the North stands. Its 3,170 fans standing on a 34-degree slope, among the steepest in the league, create an imposing wall of sound over the pitch below and increase the intimacy of this vital seating section. Above The Bailey, TQL Stadium boasts the widest video board in any North American soccer-specific stadium. TQL Stadium’s 26,000 seats place it among the largest in Major League Soccer and its 300,000 square feet of canopy shields every seat from the elements.

Maximizing the Location

The site for TQL Stadium was selected for its urban location that provides connections to all corners of Cincinnati. The West End and the nearby Over-The-Rhine (OTR) districts are two of Cincinnati’s most historic neighborhoods, each with their own distinct flavor and energy. While engaging and energizing the city, it was always a priority to be a good neighbor throughout the design process. The height and orientation of the venue were designed to minimize shadows cast on the surrounding neighborhood while the first-of-its-kind programmable LED façade primarily faces east to respect nearby residents to the west.

“This is the biggest investment in a hundred years in the Historic West End,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. “TQL stadium will be an iconic part of the city’s architecture and beauty, and the whole world is going to see it on a more regular basis.”

The stadium is mindful of both day-to-day activity and the match day pageantry that take place outside its gates. Among the many considerations informing its orientation has been the club’s passionate base of supporters with their traditional march-to-the-match that attracts thousands and arrives from the east. As a result, the stadium features an expansive East Plaza with a grand staircase that faces the Over the Rhine neighborhood and serves as a front porch and a means to channel fan energy.

Elevating the Game Day Experience

Rounding out a total package that combines tradition, community and innovation, the premium spaces at TQL Stadium reflect the city’s rich architectural heritage. The Tunnel Club uses elegant 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 jaw-dropping 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 massive two-story, 1,000-square-foot brick feature wall anchors the space, reminiscent of the labyrinth of 19th-century beer vaults that lies beneath the city.

In a nod to the team orange and blue color palette, the design team programmed a contemporary interpretation to express the bold hues. Copper and brass materials take the place of orange, creating warm tones while paying homage to the city’s industrial history. The thematic overlay of the Cincinnatus Club, named after the city’s Roman emperor namesake, exemplifies this approach. In place of the team’s blue, a muted dark navy hue is seen throughout the stadium from common areas to the suites to the seating bowl.

“We created an experience at TQL Stadium that transcends the functional and technical aspects 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.”

Follow FCC on social media on TwitterInstagramFacebook or YouTube, or visit the club’s official website:

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Anne C. Sesler

Director of Public Affairs

Anne Sesler brings more than twenty years’ experience in public affairs consulting to Government Strategies Group. Anne works with local elected officials, state legislators, reporters and community leaders on behalf of corporate and non-profit clients developing community outreach and engagement strategies, conducts media relations, builds grassroots support for projects, and conducts communication with stakeholders and legislators.

Anne lends her public policy and political communication experience beyond GSG to her role as Vice Chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. Over the years, she’s offered political counsel to both state and local campaigns, including Preschool Promise, Ohio Jobs and Growth (the casino ballot initiative), United for Jobs and Ohio’s Future (Third Frontier), and many others. Anne lives in Mt. Lookout with her husband, Bryan.

Focus areas: 

  • Local government relations
  • Coalition building
  • Media relations and communications
  • Crisis communications

Driven by:

  • Making Cincinnati a better place for all

In the community:

  • Leadership Cincinnati Class 47
  • Cincinnati Planning Commission member
  • Lunken Airport Oversight and Advisory Board Chair
  • Cincinnati Democratic Committee Co-Chair
  • Hamilton County Democratic Party, Vice Chair
  • Mt. Lookout Community Council member

Charles “Chip” Gerhardt

President & CEO

Chip Gerhardt has made government affairs, economic development, and issue advocacy his life’s work. He’s worked for decades in the public and private sectors, and advocated at the local, state, and federal levels of government. In 2007, he used that experience to found Government Strategies Group, a full-service government relations firm. At GSG, he works directly with clients, helping them navigate the complicated intersection of politics, public policy, and business.

In his many years in public policy, Chip has been involved in significant policies including; creation of tax increment financing districts, the Clean Ohio program, Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation, and most importantly, the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. He has also been at the forefront of some of the biggest developments in Greater Cincinnati, including the Horseshoe (now Hard Rock) Casino, TQL Stadium for FC Cincinnati, parking garage structures at The Banks, and the redevelopment of the @580 building. Rarely is there a public policy endeavor in Cincinnati that does not involve GSG.

Chip received his B.B.A in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame and his Juris Doctor from the St. Louis University School of Law. He lives in Anderson Township with his wife Jane. Son Charlie is a local chef and children Hank and Anne have completed their education and started lives of their own.

Focus areas:

  • State and local government relations
  • Economic development
  • Issue advocacy

Driven by:

  • A lifelong interest in the political system has driven Chip to a career in public policy and politics. As a parent of three, one with Down syndrome, has compelled him to promote public policies designed to help others. Whether it is enabling financial independence for people with disabilities, advancing funding for housing families facing homelessness, or assisting with economic development projects, Chip involves himself in things that make a positive difference. 

In the community:

  • Hamilton County Board of Elections member
  • Current Board Member for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, People Working Cooperatively, Corporation for Findlay Market, goVibrant, and the African American Chamber of Commerce
  • Former Chairman of the Board for the National Down Syndrome Society
  • Former board member of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce, and the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati
  • Cincinnati Magazine’s 300 of the Region’s Most Powerful Business Leaders, 2021-2022
  • Cincy Magazine Power 100, 2011-2022