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Convention Facilities Authority Considering Stadium Funding Plan

Bill Rinehart
CFA board member Kevin Hardman questions the use of lodging tax funds to pay for infrastructure at a proposed soccer stadium.

The City of Cincinnati plan to pay for infrastructure around a proposed soccer stadium relies in part on finances from Hamilton County's lodging tax. That use has to be approved by the Convention Facilities Authority (CFA).

The board met Friday to discuss the plan, but did not take any action.

Board member Kevin Hardman is concerned the CFA has never been asked to provide funding for such a plan.

"There just hasn't been any homework done. There haven't been the studies that are necessary to show us that a soccer stadium is going to put more heads in the beds in hotels of Hamilton County. And that's really where these dollars come from."

Hardman says the money from the lodging tax is used in part for maintenance and operation of the Duke Energy and Sharonville convention centers, and there are plans to expand both.

"Those are the kinds of activities that history has shown put people into our hotels," he says.

Hardman says the CFA is charged with operating the convention centers, and doing so responsibly. He says if the city does use its share of lodging tax money for a stadium, he wants to make sure it doesn't hurt the convention centers.

"We want to make sure that those dollars that are being raided are being filled in somewhere else. Nobody's answered that question. And if those dollars do exist somewhere else, why aren't they using those dollars to do this?"

Cincinnati Council approved a $37 million package to build infrastructure if FC Cincinnati wins a Major League Soccer expansion franchise. $20 million of that would come from the city's share of the lodging tax. The league set a soccer-specific stadium as a condition of acceptance. The MLS decision is expected this month.

The next CFA meeting isn't scheduled until March. Board member Gwen McFarlin says there will be an emergency meeting if necessary.