Some Cincinnati council members now want an enforceable community benefits agreement to be a part of any city support for an FC Cincinnati stadium.
That proposal comes as some West End community residents are divided about a plan that could bring the facility to their neighborhood.
"We know and understand that development is needed in many of our communities," said West End resident Tia Brown. "But we want that development to be truly equitable with community at the table and real community needs being provided for."
The community benefits agreement would be tied to awarding city development incentives, infrastructure funding, zone changes, or any other city support for a stadium.
FC Cincinnati general manager Jeff Berding said there will be communications and outreach. The team has hired former mayor and West End resident Mark Mallory to lead those engagement efforts. Berding and Mallory will be meeting with West End residents on February 13.
"If we're awarded an MLS franchise, FC Cincinnati will not make the stadium decision alone," Berding said. "The site must not only be the best for FC Cincinnati, but must be a positive addition to the community, welcomed by neighbors and our elected officials."
The team submitted a bid to MLS with a stadium to be built in Oakley. Berding said environmental and traffic studies for that site are underway. But the team is also exploring sites in the West End and Newport, Kentucky.
Berding admits the MLS process is causing concern.
"And I certainly acknowledge that the delay is causing a lot of folks including our elected officials and neighborhoods and those of us with FCC some frustration," Berding said.
He said he expects MLS to announce another expansion team before the end of February.