With competing MLS expansion bids gathering momentum, FC Cincinnati indicates that it is moving closer to announcing a plan for a new stadium.
Over the last several weeks, a select group of MLS expansion bids have made noticable progress in their efforts, including those in Sacramento and Nashville. Nashville in particular attracted more attention this week, as the Nashville Metro Council approved on Tuesday $225 million bonding for a new MLS stadium.
MLS is slated to make an announcement regarding expansion in mid-December, and FC Cincinnati is still pushing to be a part of that decision. The Oakley Community Council voted 8-1 on Tuesday to write the City of Cincinnati a letter of support for the effort, and FC Cincinnati president and general manager Jeff Berding indicated that the club is closer to announcing a financing plan. In a radio interview Wednesday on 700WLW, Berding said that he hopes the club will make that announcement soon. More from The Cincinnati Enquirer:
During a Wednesday interview with Lance McAlister on radio 700WLW, FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding said the club hoped to finalize a stadium financing plan in the coming days.
Berding also said FC Cincinnati received on Tuesday a preliminary show of support from the Oakley Community Council as the club continues to consider planting a purpose-built home venue in the eastside neighborhood.
“We’re going to put up, it looks like at this point, over $300 million of our own money to bring the MLS to Cincinnati,” Berding told 700WLW. “It’s going to look nothing like what happened on the riverfront. We’re not going to institute a new tax on our residents. We’re going to use growth-related revenues. We’re very excited about where we are. We think it’s a winning plan. It’s a model plan that people can feel good about. Nashville passed their (stadium plan) last night by a vote of 31-6, and I don’t want to take a backseat to Nashville or anyone else. We’re gonna show Cincinnati can get something like this done, and get it done the right way.”
Berding said he hoped stadium plans would be public by the end of the week and reiterated this to The Enquirer later Wednesday night.
Berding added, however, that the club is still in the process of considering three sites for the stadium. As unveiled earlier this year, FC Cincinnati could construct a new soccer-specific stadium in one of three locations, including two in Cincinnati–Oakley or West End–and Newport, KY. The cost estimate for the stadium was $200 million, with the team committing $100 million toward the stadium plus another $150 million for the MLS expansion fee.
Completing a financing plan, and receiving final approval from officials at one of the three locations, is still a crucial part of the process. However, Oakley Community Council President Sean Fausto expressed enthusiasm for the club’s vision in remarks to the Enquirer:
“It is a privilege for Oakley to be considered as one of the sites for the FC Cincinnati stadium,” Fausto said. “People in Oakley had to be aware that we were in consideration. FC Cincinnati certainly has been talking about Oakley, West End and Newport for many months now. From that standpoint, we couldn’t be surprised. There wasn’t a whole lot of notice to the community but FC Cincinnati is on a schedule here so we felt it was important to get them on the agenda even without a lot of notice. A lot of Oakley residents probably didn’t get a chance to weigh in on it, but we wanted to get out in front of it and let Jeff present.”
Resolving the stadium situation will be a major factor for FC Cincinnati, but the club has been considered a top-tier expansion contender to this point. Among its advantages include robust fan support in the USL, and an ownership group with documented sports-business experience.
RELATED STORIES: FC Cincinnati Continues to Work on Stadium Plan; FC Cincinnati Stadium Plan Discussed at Meeting; Commissioner, FC Cincinnati Split on Nippert Stadium for MLS; Port Authority Pitched FC Cincinnati Stadium Ownership; FC Cincinnati Releases Stadium Design Details