FC Cincinnati revealed plans for a new stadium on Monday when they hosted a special event for season ticket holders at the Woodward Theatre in OTR. Majority owner, Carl Lindner, and President and GM, Jeff Berding, hosted the event. They were joined by Dan Meis from Meis Architects who presented renderings of a soccer specific stadium for the Queen City.
The Stadium Will Glow
Supporters of FC Cincinnati’s MLS bid have been waiting a long time to see what a local stadium might look like. They weren’t disappointed on Monday. The stadium design is based on an expandable 25,000 seat horseshoe-shaped structure. The most striking feature of the renderings of the Meis design, is a light-panel glowing effect similar to Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena. The Meis firm is well known for its stadium projects, soccer and otherwise. They have built multiple MLS stadiums including Columbus Crew SC’s venue, and are currently working on designs for Everton FC and AS Roma.
No Site Secured…Yet
The three sites that have been discussed for some time are all still in play, and no determination has been made about which site they will focus on. Those three sites are the West End (OTR adjacent), Oakley, and the Northern Kentucky Riverfront. They will select and focus on one in the near future and attempt to gain ownership control of that site in association with a successful MLS bid. They are still analyzing each to determine which is the most viable based on several factors. If everything goes according to plan and MLS entry is granted this year, they would break ground on the site in 2018 for completion by 2020.
Northern Kentucky Is Definitely in the Running
The presentation and renderings were based on a single site for demonstration purposes. That site was Northern Kentucky. Berding was very clear that they had not selected the Northern Kentucky site, and that it could just as easily end up in one of the other two Ohio locations. However, he did cite a strong relationship with a partner influential in developing the Northern Kentucky riverfront, and talked-up the possible benefits of the Kentucky site, calling it “part of our region”, and highlighting its riverfront proximity to the Reds’ and Bengals’ stadiums.
Tax Increment Financing
FC Cincinnati won’t be looking for new public taxes to help fund the stadium. They also reiterated several times that the investment group will be putting up $250M in funding. The owners will fund $150M for the MLS expansion fee and $100M for the stadium, covering over half its cost. They will look to cover the rest with public funds and a public-private partnership using Tax Increment Financing (TIF). With this model the municipality where the stadium is built would “divert future property tax revenue increases from a defined area or district toward an economic development project.” You can read more about TIF here. This is the same financing model that was used to fund the development of the Banks on the Cincinnati riverfront.
There Won’t Be A Public Referendum
The TIF financing won’t require a public vote because they aren’t looking for new taxes to support the project. It will, however, require community dialogue on the proposed benefits of a new stadium, and ultimately the support of the elected officials in the municipality where the stadium is built.
It’s About The End Game
Debate is fairly heated amongst FC Cincinnati fans about which site would be best for the team’s new stadium. Some Cincinnati and Ohio natives are opposed to the idea of the team being located on the other side of the river. Both Carl Lindner and Jeff Berding made it clear that while they’d like to build in Cincinnati, the goal is to win the MLS bid. They will do what it takes to make that happen. FC Cincinnati will select the site that gives them the best chance possible to get a deal done, because the stadium is such a vital piece of a successful bid.
Call for Support
Berding urged FC Cincinnati’s most passionate supporters, who were in attendance for the stadium plan reveal, to be active and make their voices heard. He suggested that they contact local officials, show up at public meetings, and make a “powerful” statement that will get the attention of elected representatives. He also said that the organization of public support for the stadium plan will be led by the team’s supporters groups rather than the club itself.
Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for more news and updates as FC Cincinnati’s MLS bid unfolds.