FC Cincinnati Looks to Move MLS Expansion Pitch Forward

FC Cincinnati Stadium rendering

A significant week is on tap for FC Cincinnati, with the club looking to secure political support for a new stadium to bolster its MLS expansion chances. 

Monday and Tuesday will be days to watch for FC Cincinnati. At 4:00 on Monday afternoon, the Cincinnati City Council is set to vote in a special session on a $33.8-million funding package for infrastructure improvements to support a new stadium on the city’s West End. This comes after the club’s stadium proposal took a step forward last week, when the Cincinnati Public Schools board approved a land-swap agreement that will allow the new facility to be built at the site of Taft High School’s Stargel Stadium.

That approval by the school board allowed the proposal to proceed to the city council. While the council typically does not meet until Wednesdays, Monday’s special session would give FC Cincinnati’s situation some clarity ahead of a key MLS Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday. More from The Cincinnati Enquirer:

P.G. Sittenfeld, who proposed city’s plan to help build a $212.5 million West End stadium with David Mann, said Tuesday could be the last day for FC Cincinnati to secure an MLS franchise during this round of expansion.

“Tuesday’s meeting of the MLS Board of Governors is really judgment day for whether or not Cincinnati gets awarded a franchise as part of this expansion round,” Sittenfeld said Friday.

The league declined to comment Tuesday’s meeting other than to say that expansion is on the agenda.

A vote of approval from the nine-member Cincinnati City Council would represent a significant step for FC Cincinnati. The Enquirer reports that at least four members have publicly expressed opposition to the plan, while a fifth wants a community benefits agreement in writing. Under updated terms of the legislation, the club will not receive any funds until a community benefits agreement has been signed and approved by the city council. In addition, the agreement must include both the Over-The-Rhine Community Council and West End.

Along with Detroit, Nashville, and Sacramento, FC Cincinnati was part of a mix of expansion finalists considered by MLS in December. Though it was anticipated that two of those bids would be chosen in December, MLS selected only Nashville while holding off on decisions regarding the other bids. FC Cincinnati has been a USL attendance success story at Nippert Stadium, but MLS has been clear in its desire for a new stadium as part of an expansion bid.

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