FC Cincinnati to pitch West End stadium idea to West End Community Council
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - After a rough night, FC Cincinnati continues to plead its case for a soccer-only stadium in the West End.
The popular club is pushing hard to work out plans before Major League Soccer makes a decision on expansion.
FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding is meeting with the board of the West End community council on Tuesday evening.
It's not a public hearing, but it is open to the public.
He's hoping to sell the team's plan to build on the site of Taft High School's Stargel Stadium and build a new, improved stadium for the school across the street. It will be a tough sell.
Stargel Stadium sits right behind Taft High School. It's not only the home field for 20 teams, it borders a neighborhood. Right across the street from the field are homes… lots of homes in Cincinnati's West End.
Community Council President Keith Blake has lived in the neighborhood for 29 years and will hear Berding's pitch on Tuesday night.
“I don't think we've actually seen the total plan at this point, but I'm willing to be surprised,” said Blake.
Blake says he's keeping an open mind and acknowledges that a 21,000-seat stadium could have tremendous upside.
“The West End's not at a loss for non-profits. This is a huge for-profit organization. If they want to be an integral part of the West End, they can only help,” said Blake.
Not everyone is convinced the team is interested in becoming an integral part of the community and possibly caving to MLS's demands for an urban location.
“It's not really being built for the people of the West End. Let's be clear about that. This is being built for people who don't live there, who perhaps will never live there and will come in and park and enjoy the game then they'll leave,” said Wendell Young of Cincinnati City Council.
Young fears a stadium will displace West Enders like development displaced people in Over-the-Rhine. He's not sure that public input will matter, in the end.
“Well, if experience is any teacher, I believe that no matter what the community has to say if it's a low-income community and a largely African-American community their wishes will probably be ignored and the stadium will be built,” said Young
Councilman Young says he has no issues with FC Cincinnati.
He thinks they have done great things in a short period of time.
He says he wishes them well but not in the West End.
Major League Soccer has said it hopes to announce its next expansion team before the season starts in three weeks.