Nippert Stadium

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Nippert Stadium
Nippert Stadium, September 2015.JPG
View from south corner in September 2015
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Nippert Stadium
Location in Ohio
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Nippert Stadium
Location in the United States
Full nameCarson Field at Nippert Stadium
Former namesCarson Field (1901–1924)
Location2700 Bearcats Way
(174 West Corry Street)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Coordinates 39°07′52″N84°30′58″W / 39.131°N 84.516°W / 39.131; -84.516 Coordinates: 39°07′52″N84°30′58″W / 39.131°N 84.516°W / 39.131; -84.516
  • 40,000 (football)
Record attendance40,124
(October 24, 2015)
SurfaceNatural grass (1901–1969)
Astroturf (19701999)
Field Turf (2000–2012)
Act Global UBU Sports Speed M6-M (2013-present)
Broke ground1915
Opened1915 [1] (dedicated September 27, 1924) [2]
Renovated1936, 1954, 1970, 1990–1992, 2000, 2005, 2013–2015, 2017
Construction cost $10.5 million
($159 million in 2021 [3] )
Architect Frederick W. Garber

Nippert Stadium is an outdoor stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. Primarily used for American football, it is the home field of the Cincinnati Bearcats football team. The stadium has also been used as a soccer venue, serving as the home of FC Cincinnati of Major League Soccer from their inaugural 2016 USL season through the 2020 MLS season. Nippert Stadium has a seating capacity of approximately 40,000 people following an expansion and renovation in 2014. In rudimentary form since 1901, permanent concrete stands were built along each sideline for the 1915 season [1] and as a complete horseshoe stadium since 1924, making it the fourth-oldest playing site and fifth-oldest stadium in college football, respectively. [4]



During the final game of the 1923 season with intrastate rival Miami University, UC player James Gamble "Jimmy" Nippert sustained a spike wound injury. He died a month later of blood poisoning, reportedly due to having been infected by droppings left after a pre-game chicken race. Nippert's grandfather, James Gamble of Procter & Gamble, donated the required funds to complete the stadium. A locker room and training (medical) facility was added as part of the renovation for the safety of players. [5] Nippert's brother, Louis, was majority owner of the Cincinnati Reds during the 1970s. [6]

Early history

In 1895, the organizer of UC's first football team, Arch Carson, introduced a plan to build a stadium complete with wooden bleachers on the site where Nippert Stadium currently stands. The plans became a reality in 1901 while Carson was serving as UC's physical education director. The first game played on the site originally called Varsity Field in Burnet Woods was on November 2, 1901 vs the Ohio University Bobcats. Cincinnati was defeated 16–0 in that contest. They rebounded a week later and defeated Hannover on Varsity field November 9, 1901, 10–0. Although Cincinnati has played home contests in other Cincinnati parks, this site has been the primary home of Cincinnati Football since that time. The playing surface at Nippert Stadium is called Carson Field in honor of Arch Carson. Construction of Carson Field began in 1900 and was completed in 1910. [7]

In 1915, construction was completed on the first sections of a brick and concrete structure to replace the wooden stands and continued for several seasons as funds were raised. In 1924, the completed structure was dedicated as James Gamble Nippert Memorial Stadium with a capacity of 12,000.

The field is slightly offset from a conventional north-south alignment, configured north-northeast to south-southwest at an approximate elevation of 800 feet (245 m) above sea level.


Renovation history

The field was lowered in 1936, allowing capacity to reach 24,000.

In 1954, a small upper deck on the East sideline was completed, and named the Reed Shank Pavilion. This increased capacity to 28,000.

In 1992, the stadium was heavily renovated, expanding the upper deck on the East sideline and adding a new Press Box on the West sideline. This increased capacity to 35,097.

In 2005, new gameday locker rooms behind the north end zone (underneath the newly completed Campus Rec Center) were added, as well as a new bigger video board above the north end zone.

2014–2015 renovation and expansion

As the UC program rose to prominence in the late 2000s, the small seating capacity of Nippert became an issue. Former UC head coach Brian Kelly called for an expansion of Nippert, the smallest stadium in the Big East Conference. On December 18, 2012, President Santa J. Ono and then Athletic Director Whit Babcock unveiled the long-anticipated plans to update and expand Nippert Stadium. Originally the price tag was estimated at $70 million, [14] but eventually an increased budget of $86 million was announced. On June 25, 2013, the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees approved the Nippert Stadium Expansion. The West Pavilion now includes a new press box and premium seating area, which will add suites, loge boxes, and club seating. The western concourse also boasts improved general fan amenities, including concession stands, restrooms, and more efficient in-stadium traffic flow. Additions on the east side of the stadium were more sparse, but included additional concession stands, restrooms, and an expansion of the formerly-cramped concourse walkways, due to the addition of skywalks to connect the Herschede-Shank Pavilion with the O'Varsity Way brick plaza, which is located just outside the stadium.

Nippert hosting an FC Cincinnati match in 2017 after the field expansion Fc-cincinnati-vs-chicago-fire nippert-stadium 06-28-2017.jpg
Nippert hosting an FC Cincinnati match in 2017 after the field expansion

After renovations, Nippert's capacity (including about 2500 SRO) is now around 40,000 (an exact figure hasn't yet been put forth by the university). However, local United Soccer League club FC Cincinnati sold out Nippert Stadium in July 2016 after the renovations, and announced a crowd of 35,061. [15] Further, in early 2017 Nippert lost 1200 seats in a $2 million project expanding the playing field 5 yards in both length and width to accommodate a full-sized soccer field. [16]

The 2014–15 renovation and expansion was designed by the New York-based firm, Architecture Research Office in close collaboration with Heery International. ARO served as the design architect, while Heery served as the sports consultant and executive architect. [17] Construction on the Nippert Stadium expansion started in December 2013, and was completed on time, in September 2015. [18] During the 2014 season, the Bearcats played all of their home games at Paul Brown Stadium, the downtown home of the Cincinnati Bengals. [19]


Record attendance

On October 24, 2015, the Bearcats hosted the UConn Huskies on Homecoming weekend. The crowd on hand was 40,124 making this the second consecutive official sellout in the newly renovated Nippert Stadium. The Bearcats were winners in front of 7 of the 10 largest crowds at Nippert including the top 3 attended games.

Largest football attendance (since 2000)

1October 24, 201540,124Cincinnati 37 – Connecticut 13
2October 4, 201940,121Cincinnati 27 – #18 UCF 24
3October 1, 201540,101Cincinnati 34 – Miami (FL) 23
4September 15, 201640,015Cincinnati 16 – #6 Houston 40
5September 5, 201539,095Cincinnati 52 – Alabama A&M 10
6November 9, 201938,919Cincinnati 48 – Connecticut 3
7September 12, 201538,112Cincinnati 26 – Temple 34
September 24, 201638,112Cincinnati 27 – Miami (OH) 20
9August 29, 201938,032Cincinnati 24 – UCLA 14
10September 4, 202137,978#8 Cincinnati 49 – Miami (OH) 14

Soccer attendance

During FC Cincinnati soccer matches, stadium capacity was limited to 35,061 before 2017 when the field was widened and rows were removed along the sidelines and in the corners to accommodate a regulation width soccer field. Nippert sold out once for a soccer match before the field was widened, when English Premier League club Crystal Palace FC played a friendly against FC Cincinnati on July 16, 2016. Current soccer capacity after rows were removed and once the club reached MLS is 32,250. [20]

LeagueSeasonAverage attendance
USL 2016 17,296
USL 2017 21,199
USL 2018 25,717
MLS 2019 27,336

Largest soccer attendance (pre-MLS)

1July 16, 201635,061 Crystal Palace FC LInternational Friendly
2August 15, 201733,250 New York Red Bulls L U.S. Open Cup
3June 28, 201732,287 Chicago Fire WU.S. Open Cup
4September 29, 201831,478 Indy Eleven WFinal FCC regular-season home game before MLS move
5September 16, 201730,417 New York Red Bulls II W
6October 2, 201630,187 Charleston Battery LUSL Playoffs
7June 14, 201730,160 Columbus Crew WU.S. Open Cup
8June 16, 201828,026 Richmond Kickers W
9August 4, 201827,426 Nashville SC D
10September 16, 201827,275 Toronto FC II W

Largest soccer attendance (MLS)

1March 17, 201932,250 Portland Timbers WInaugural Home Match
June 22, 2019 LA Galaxy L
3August 25, 201930,611 Columbus Crew L Hell Is Real Derby
4July 18, 201928,774 D.C. United L
5May 25, 201928,290 New York Red Bulls L
6August 17, 201927,273 New York City FC L
7August 3, 201927,106 Vancouver Whitecaps L
8September 21, 201926,466 Chicago Fire D
9April 19, 201926,416 Real Salt Lake L
10July 6, 201926,276 Houston Dynamo W

Other soccer attendance

On September 15, 2017, the United States women's soccer team hosted New Zealand in a friendly before 30,596 fans – a record for the women's national team in the state of Ohio. [21]

On June 9, 2019, the United States men's soccer team hosted Venezuela in a friendly to prepare for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup. [22]

DateWinning TeamResultLosing TeamTournamentSpectators
September 15, 2017Flag of the United States.svg  United States women5–0Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand womenWomen’s International Friendly30,596
June 9, 2019 Venezuela  Flag of Venezuela (state).svg3–0Flag of the United States.svg  United States International Friendly23,955 [23]


East Stands 2008 NippertStadium2.jpg
East Stands 2008
Exterior 2008 NippertStadium1.jpg
Exterior 2008

Nippert has earned a reputation as a tough place to play. One national columnist, visiting the sold-out Keg of Nails rivalry game in 2013, described Nippert Stadium as a "quaint bowl of angry noise sitting under the gaze of remarkable architecture" and went on to compare it to a "baby Death Valley" (referring to LSU's notoriously intimidating Tiger Stadium). [24] In 2012, USA Today called Nippert Stadium the best football venue in what was then the Big East Conference. [25]

Other tenants and events hosted

The stadium served as home for the American Football League expansion team, the Cincinnati Bengals, in 1968 and 1969, while their eventual permanent home at Riverfront Stadium was being constructed.

The Cincinnati Comets of the American Soccer League played at Nippert in 1973. [26]

The stadium has served as a concert venue at least three times. On July 22, 1973 a show headlined by The Edgar Winter Group with The James Gang and Peter Frampton's group, Frampton's Camel, drew between 5,000 and 7,000 fans. [27] On July 29, 1973 a concert with Grand Funk Railroad drew only 8,000 fans; seventeen were arrested on charges they got in without a ticket. [28] On August 3, 1975, Nippert hosted The Ohio River Rock Festival (Aerosmith, Black Oak Arkansas, Blue Öyster Cult, Foghat, Mahogany Rush, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, REO Speedwagon, and Styx; admission was festival seating/general admission, attendance 32,000 est. according to local radio broadcasts). In addition, the Grateful Dead was supposed to perform at Nippert on June 15, 1973, but the show was canceled, according to the Cincinnati Post , due to the fact that the staging was not up to the Dead's demands (they eventually played Cincinnati Gardens on December 4, 1973.)

On November 2, 2008, Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama held a rally at Nippert two days before the election to an estimated 27,000 attendees. [29]

FC Cincinnati began playing at Nippert in 2016. The team broke the United Soccer League regular-season record for attendance five times, drawing 30,417 fans to its game against New York Red Bulls II on September 16, 2017. They drew 30,187 to their playoff game against the Charleston Battery on October 2, 2016. On September 29, 2018, they once again broke the USL attendance record, drawing 31,478 fans against Indy Eleven in FCC's final regular-season home game before the team's move to MLS. The team drew 35,061 for a friendly against Crystal Palace F.C. on July 16, 2016. They drew a USL record home opener crowd of 23,144 against Saint Louis FC on April 15, 2017. They drew 33,250 to a U.S. Open Cup semifinal against New York Red Bulls on August 15, 2017.

Nitro Circus performed at Nippert on June 23, 2018. [30]

Alternative stadiums

UC has used Paul Brown Stadium, home of the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals, as an alternate home field for several high profile home games. The downtown stadium has a larger seating capacity of 65,535. Games against Ohio State (2002), Oklahoma (2010), and West Virginia (2011) drew crowds of 66,319, 58,253, and 48,152, respectively, at Paul Brown Stadium.

See also

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The 2020 American Athletic Conference Football Championship Game presented by CapitalOne was a college football game played on Saturday, December 19, 2020, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The 6th American Athletic Conference Championship Game, it determined the 2020 champion of the American Athletic Conference. This was the first year of the current division-less format of the game; instead of representatives from two divisions, the two teams with the best conference records earned a spot in the game.


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  30. "CINCINNATI, OHIO Nitro Circus". Retrieved June 25, 2018.

Further reading

Preceded by
First stadium
Home of the
Cincinnati Bengals

Succeeded by
Riverfront Stadium