Council Wants Several Items Addressed Before Critical FC Cincinnati Votes

Feb 11, 2019

Cincinnati Council's Budget and Finance Committee Monday approved an agreement that would sell a city-owned parking lot to FC Cincinnati for its stadium project in the West End.

The full council could vote Wednesday on that agreement and a zoning change needed for the project if several other outstanding issues can be addressed by then.

FC Cincinnati had wanted to purchase the parking lot for $1, but a council majority said no. They wanted the appraised value of the land, which the city set at $1,632,384.

The sale agreement includes several provisions. Those include (from the agreement):

  • When the FC Cincinnati stadium opens in 2021 through 2031, the team will guarantee payments to the city of at least $400,000 in the form of admissions taxes. 
  • The team will construct the police department a new investigate unit facility at District 3, which is estimated to cost $300,000.
  • FC Cincinnati will provide 115 parking spaces exclusively for the police department, those being in either an FC garage or the city-owned Town Center Garage. These will be guaranteed even on game days. (If the spots are in Town Center, the team will pay $40 a month/per space for the initial two years of the agreement.)
  • The team will construct a new surface parking lot along Ezzard Charles Drive with 67 spaces. That construction cost will be capped at $750,000. 
  • Beginning in 2021 and continuing through 2041, the city will provide FC Cincinnati with game day rights to all spaces in Town Center Garage for all MLS regular season games and playoff games and up to four other professional soccer games (for a total of no more than 28 total game days). The team will also have game day rights to the spaces in the new surface parking lot. The team will pay $150,000 for the first four years, and increasing $10,000 every two years until the agreement ends. 
  • The team also has the "right of first refusal" if the city ever decides to sell the District 1 Police headquarters building. 

But there are several items on the "unresolved" issues list that some City Council members would like addressed by Wednesday. Those include:

  • Reaching an agreement with the Cincinnati Ballet concerning a parking lot needed for stadium construction. FC Cincinnati now owns the lot, but the ballet has a long-term lease to use it for parking. The two sides are working on a solution for that issue.  The two sides report productive conversations, but no agreement yet.
  • Working with the Cincinnati Arts Association and performing companies at Music Hall on noise issues.  A preliminary study released last week found sound from the stadium on game days could be heard inside Music Hall during performances and rehearsals. The team and arts organizations are continuing conversations about that report.
  • A City Council majority has now signed a motion to prevent the team from shutting down traffic on Central Parkway on game days.
  • Work on a continuing communications agreement with the West End community.
  • Guaranteed parking for CET employees in the Town Center Garage even on game days so operations of the facilities in the CET building can continue.
  • The status of the Police Memorial on Ezzard Charles Drive if the 67-space parking lot is built next to it.
  • Finding a way to help the owner of Just Cookin' Catering re-open her business in the West End, which is now shuttered because of the stadium project.

Discussions on all these issues are ongoing and could yield agreements by Wednesday.  If not, a vote on the FC Cincinnati issues could be delayed until next week.