FC Cincinnati‘s push for a new stadium received a boost on Monday, when a Cincinnati City Council committee approved a infrastructure funding plan.
For its MLS expansion pitch, FC Cincinnati is proposing the construction of a privately-financed $200 million stadium in Oakley, with public funds requested to pay for infrastructure upgrades at the stadium site. To cover a portion of the infrastructure costs–previously estimated at $70 to $75 million–Cincinnati mayor John Cranely has proposed that the city use funds from a variety of sources to contribute a roughly $36 million financing package.
In an early but crucial step, the Cincinnati City Council’s budget and finance committee approved the plan in a 5-2 vote. The council will consider the measure in another vote on Wednesday, but Monday’s decision by the committee was a key step in the process. More from The Cincinnati Enquirer:
“MLS is the fastest growing sport in the country and the most popular sport in the world,” Cranley told council members. “We have an opportunity to get in early. I have no fear that, within one year, this will be a historic no brainer. This is not a close call.”
If the ordinance had not passed the committee, which includes all nine council members, it would have essentially died. Another vote by council during its regular meeting is expected Wednesday.
Cranley’s plan calls for the city to provide roughly $36 million for road building and improvement, utilities and other public works associated with the project. In addition, Hamilton County has set aside $15 million in parking revenue funds to help build a parking garage.
County commissioners did their part Monday when they agreed to vote Wednesday on a measure that gives the city permission to use about $19 million from its share of the hotel tax to help pay for the city’s $36 million share of stadium infrastructure. They also reiterated their commitment to build the parking garage.
FC Cincinnati has been working with local officials to complete a stadium plan in advance of MLS’s upcoming announcement on expansion. The league is expected to make that announcement in the middle of December.
Over the past two years, FC Cincinnati has emerged as a major success story by setting USL attendance records at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium. The club has sought to gain approval for a new a soccer-specific stadium that would meet MLS standards and measure up against other bids, including those in Nashville and Sacramento.
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