FC Cincinnati, West End council agree on community benefits agreement

Plans for a Major League Soccer stadium in Cincinnati could come together or fall apart Wednesday afternoon. (FC Cincinnati)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Plans for a Major League Soccer stadium in Cincinnati appear to be coming together in the West End.

Members of the West End Community Council and FC Cincinnati signed a community benefits agreement Wednesday after hours of a closed-door meeting.

The agreement resolved a key issue in efforts to build a new soccer stadium in the West End.

A special Council Finance Committee meeting was supposed to take place at 1 p.m. Wednesday, but that was delayed.

FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding said at the meeting that they would like to be good neighbors in the West End.

"How can we improve this? Today's effort is a culmination of that. But let's be honest, this is just the start. We'll be working every single day to continue to grow FC Cincinnati and grow the neighborhood," said FC Cincinnati General Manager Jeff Berding.

In April, Cincinnati City Council approved a deal to build the privately-financed, $1.75-2 million stadium in the West End; that deal included a community benefits program.

The president of the West End Community Council had signed off on a $3-million agreement that would pay out over 30 years to youth programs in the neighborhood, but WECC as a whole said that amount was not enough.

In order for the MLS expansion franchise to potentially be awarded, FC Cincinnati needs the stadium deal in place internally in the city. Councilman David Mann is mediating talks between FC Cincinnati and WECC. He says there's progress, but they're not there yet.

“I’m hopeful that yet today that we will have the framework of an agreement going forward," Mann said.

"The community did not get everything that it wanted and there is still a lot of work to be done. But I think we've found a path forward and will continue to fight for a community that deserves it," said West End Community Council Attorney Kristen Myers.

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