FC Cincinnati Owners Sign Option To Buy Sight For New Stadium, Strengthening MLS Hopes
USL club FC Cincinnati's owners have "signed an option to buy a site" in Cincinnati's Oakley neighborhood for a new stadium, "filling one of the key remaining criteria needed to win" an MLS expansion franchise, according to Steve Watkins of the CINCINNATI BUSINESS COURIER. Neither FC Cincinnati President & GM Jeff Berding nor Colliers Int'l, the real estate firm that listed the property, "said how much FC Cincinnati would pay if it proceeds with the purchase." The club now has "control of a workable stadium site, which is one of the two key criteria MLS has for prospective expansion candidates." MLS also "wants financing in place and the needed government approvals." FC Cincinnati’s owners "have proposed investing" $200M to "pay for the entire cost of building the 21,000-seat soccer stadium." They have also "committed to investing" $150M to "cover the cost of an expansion franchise." But they "still need financing to cover" $70-75M in infrastructure costs. The club is also "considering a stadium location at the Ovation site in Newport, where the Ohio and Licking rivers meet." FC Cincinnati owners have a MOU "in place with Corporex Cos., which owns the site." Hamilton County commissioners "had been pushing for the use of Paul Brown Stadium," but MLS has consistently said that it "will give priority to a soccer-specific stadium and it made that point clearly" in a meeting with county commissioners on Monday (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/21).
VOTE PENDING: In Cincinnati, Coolidge, Knight & Wartman note the stadium’s fate "hinges on what Cincinnati City Council decides" next Monday. The vote to approve funding for infrastructure around the proposed site "will likely be close." It "will take five votes" to pass and so far, FC Cincinnati "has three votes of support." The club "needs a stadium plan in place by the first week of December if it hopes to be" one of MLS’s next expansion franchises. MLS "will decide the new teams Dec. 14." (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 11/22). Also in Cincinnati, Paul Daugherty writes MLS is a "greedy, arrogant enterprise that acts big league, even though it’s not." Daugherty: "Get a large, national TV deal, get even close to as popular as the Big Three. Then your greed and arrogance at least will be understandable. And we’re not even talking about the $150 mil franchise fee the league demands." If this "whole thing falls apart -- or if MLS decides Cincinnati isn’t worthy -- it will be interesting to see if the current ownership group hangs in -- you know, for the greater good of Cincinnati -- or treats its toy like it’s radioactive" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 11/22).