Plans for a new FC Cincinnati West End stadium have been scratched, leaving the club with two stadium site options in its ongoing search.
As part of its MLS expansion bid, FC Cincinnati was considering three site options for a new soccer-specific stadium, a slate that included Oakley, West End, and Newport, KY. Though all three options were still on the table, the club was recently making a more aggressive pitch for West End. In that proposal, FC Cincinnati was to construct a soccer-specific venue on the site of the existing Taft High School’s Stargel Stadium, which it would have replaced by constructing a new facility at a nearby site.
One of the key steps to moving that plan forward was completing a land-swap agreement with Cincinnati Public Schools. The two sides have been engaged in discussions, but with negotiations still far apart, FC Cincinnati announced Friday that it was dropping West End from its list of stadium site options. With the club seeking to finalize its stadium concept by March 31, the focus on the site will now shift to Oakley and Newport. More from The Cincinnati Enquirer:
The team didn’t pull any punches when it knocked West End off the list. The school board wanted $2 million a year in payments in lieu of taxes. Team leadership said a community benefits agreement would cost another $50 million.
“As with any business, FC Cincinnati must consider the economics,” the statement said. “This was a once in a lifetime development opportunity for a neighborhood that wants and needs new investment.”
Not only that, the club says it’s up against a deadline.
FC Cincinnati General Manager Jeff Berding said a finalized stadium plan is due March 31. It’s a major piece of the puzzle that could earn the team an MLS franchise. That leaves 10 working days for the team’s leadership to decide where to build a stadium that is estimated to cost between $200 million and $250 million.
Along with bids from Detroit, Nashville, and Sacramento, Cincinnati was one of four finalists considered in December for an MLS expansion spot. It was at one point expected that the league would choose two of those bids before 2017 concluded, but MLS announced in December that it would select Nashville and hold off on decisions regarding the other expansion bids. Sacramento has been searching for a major investor to boost its chances, while Detroit’s expansion pitch is built around sharing the existing Ford Field with the NFL’s Lions rather than the construction of a new stadium.
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