West End stadium for FC Cincinnati? Neighbors want a voice in the process

West End stadium for FC Cincinnati? Neighbors want a voice in the process (WKRC)

WEST END, Ohio (WKRC) – It's been nearly two months since FC Cincinnati made their pitch to Major League Soccer.

In that time, Nashville has gotten an invite and where FC Cincinnati's potential stadium will be built... is not entirely clear.

Many are excited about the prospect of FC Cincinnati joining Major League Soccer, but not as excited about potentially having a soccer stadium in their neighborhood.

Thursday evening, a crowd packed into the Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses - Findlay Street Center to talk about what a stadium would mean for their home.

Tia Brown with Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses helped organize the meeting.

“We just wanted to give them a forum where they could voice their concerns and hopefully gather them and take them to different parties and try to get some answers," Brown said.

The Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority recently voted to approve the sale of vacant lots in the West End to FC Cincinnati. Team President Jeff Berding says he plans to work with the CMHA to build new homes on the land.

"I feel that if they're going to come and it's going to help make a difference to enhance the people that's already been here for so many years, sure let them come. But if it's going to come and it's going to move us out and hinder the ones that made a difference down here, no we cannot erase them," said Glory Gray, a West End resident.

The team also reached out to the Cincinnati School Board about Taft High School. It sits on prime land that could be used for a stadium. Taft's stadium is named for Jason Stargel's father who coached at the school.

“We feel it would be a travesty if the stadium was torn down or diminished in any way,” said Jason Stargel.

“One of my biggest concerns is the displacement of students, the possible displacement of students. Word is that they're not going to touch the school building, but when you're talking about a high school, it's more than just a building. Everything attached to the high school is part of the high school experience of our students," said Lezlie Christian, who is a teacher and lives in the West End.

There are lots of unknowns at this point, but whatever happens, the people who live here want a voice in the process.

"We just worry about the displacement and the neighborhood that will be affected by it.," said Stargel.

FC Cincinnati's President Jeff Berding is expected to be at the next West End Community Council meeting. That's on February 22nd at the Carl Lindner YMCA.

Berding has said that all three locations, including Oakley and Newport, are still in play.

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