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FC Cincinnati "Close" To Announcing Stadium Location, Financing Deal

Bill Rinehart
FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding updates the media on plans to build a stadium, in a bid to win a major league franchise.

FC Cincinnati isn't quite ready to announce a location for its planned soccer stadium or a financing plan. General Manager Jeff Berding says he wants to have something for the public to look at next week. Major League Soccer plans to announce two expansion teams in December.

The team has plans for a $250 million soccer-specific stadium that could hold 25,000 people. The team's owners are pledging $150 million of that, with the rest from sources yet to be identified.

"We have a financing plan that we've been working on for months," Berding says. "We've talked about how tax increment financing (TIF) is a piece of that. Tax increment financing relies on a specific site and the development that would take place on that site."

He says a TIF isn't the only public component of the financing plan. Other money could come from a ticket tax and public bonds. "How exactly we finance it as it relates to the bonds are literally some of the pieces that we're working out right now."

Berding says the team is talking with Cincinnati's leaders, Hamilton County commissioners, and the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority, formerly known as the Port Authority.

"We believe the Port Authority has been set up to enable it to be a very important financial conduit and owner of the stadium," he says.

He hopes to have an announcement on financing and a location in the next week.

FC Cincinnati has been looking at three different locations: Oakley, the West End, and Newport. Berding says all three are still possibilities. However, he says, the team is trying to secure an option to purchase land at Oakley Station.

"The advantage that Oakley has is it's a property with one owner. As we've looked down in the West End/OTR area, the different parcels that we would be looking at have multiple owners. And we just don't have time to pursue that kind of property acquisition before the deadline."

While the Paul Brown Stadium lease indicates that facility could be used as a home for FC Cincinnati, Berding says MLS rules require the team to have its own home. He also says the team can only make money if it has control of the gate receipts.

MLS plans to award expansion franchises to two teams in December. Another two are expected at a later date.