Old Milacron site in Oakley appears to be favorite pick for new FC Cincinnati stadium site
CINCINNATI (WKRC) – In the hopes of joining Major League Soccer a new FC Cincinnati stadium could be closer to reality, but there’s a $75 million dollar catch. Tuesday the club announced it will finance its own soccer-specific stadium 100% with private money. The new plan calls for 21,000 seat stadium and the cost of $200 million dollars. The team also will pay the $150 million dollar franchise fee to join the MLS.
Jeff Berding, FC Cincinnati President and GM says that $75 million should come from Hamilton County.
"It's only for infrastructure. It's not for financing the stadium. And, there's a revenue source available to the county that literally is almost earmarked for a project just like this,” said Berding.
Berding added the county hotel tax has money left over that will cover the amount needed and the City of Cincinnati will come up the rest because Berding says Mayor John Cranley is on board to help. Cranley was not at the press conference but did release a statement to Local 12 regarding the announcement:
“My vision is to help FC Cincinnati meet requirements for the expansion bid through infrastructure support. It is bringing vibrancy and excitement to our city, and we can help bring this dream to life for our city with tax increment finance dollars generated by the project and the development around it. We will offer support for public infrastructure only that will benefit all. No city dollars will go into the stadium. We hope the county will partner with us to make this happen.”
Insiders say Cincinnati is one of the final three cities being considered by the MLS, the two expansion teams will be announced next month.
Oakley still appears to be the most likely and most likely location for a new stadium near The Oakley Station development. That’s why the team is asking the city and county to help.
Club owner Carl Lindner III told reporters “it’s our bid to lose” when it comes to joining the MLS. That statement among others made puts the pressure on the Hamilton County Commissioners. All three; Todd Portune, Denise Driehaus and Chris Monzel all made it clear they wouldn’t comment after the announcement today and would wait until their meeting the following day to make any comments about what FC Cincinnati is asking for.
Berding says the pot of money just sitting there is right for FCC to join the big leagues.
"This 2.8 million has no current users. It's waiting to be used, waiting for a project that will draw visitors to the area,” said Berding.
Berding says about $3 million dollars a year is needed to get the roads and parking lots built around the stadium.
Cincinnati City Council member PG Sittenfeld watched the press conference from City Hall.
"A lot of detail is still coming out and things are shifting every day. I tend to be on the fiscally conservative side of this. I'm going to be watching any city tax dollar like a hawk. so it depends on what the mechanism by which they want those city dollars and whether or not that would earn my support,” said Sittenfeld.
The support from fans hasn’t changed. They want the MLS in the Queen City.
“We are just excited that FC is considering Oakley as a location so hopefully the city and the country and get financing together because I think it would be a real boom to the city of Cincinnati overall to keep the team here,” said Mike Stewart of Madtree Brewing.
MadTree would be within walking distance of a new stadium.
“We just want to see them do well, we’ve been supporters of FC Cincinnati since day one,” said Stewart. “It would defiantly help out Oakley as a neighborhood and thriving business district.”
If Oakley doesn’t work out and the commissioners don’t forked over the money, Berding says they’ll take the stadium pitch to Newport, KY.
There is a site that’s ready, zoned properly and had TIF. FCC says its talking with a developer about the Ovation site.
"We are simultaneously talking, as we've said all along, to the leaders in northern Kentucky and our development partners for Ovation and, yes, you can conclude that we would 100% privately finance the stadium in Newport as well,” said Berding.
Local 12 spoke with Campbell County Judge Executive Steve Pendary who says he’s unaware of any ongoing negotiations between FFF and Campbell County or Newport.
Newport’s City Manager Thomas Fromme also confirmed he’s has some conversations with representatives of FCC but says in no way is his city trying to compete against Cincinnati for a soccer stadium for FCC.