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West End Stadium Opponents Refuse To Surrender As Plan Moves Forward

Bill Rinehart
Marsha Reece of the Liberty Street Apartments Residents Council speaks against a FC Cincinnati stadium in the West End.

Opponents of a professional soccer stadium in the West End say they're not giving up the fight. Many gathered outside Taft I.T. High School Wednesday night to reiterate their stance, a day after the project took a step closer to reality.

Tuesday evening, Cincinnati Public School board members approved their part of a deal that would build a soccer-specific facility where Stargel Stadium currently stands. In exchange, FC Cincinnati will spend about $13.5 million on a new stadium for the school district, and pay about $25 million over 30 years.

Contina Davis is vice president of the Liberty Street Apartments Resident's Council. She says CPS students won't benefit. "That is not going to pay for transportation for a year. It's not going to pay for lunches for a year. It's not even possibly going to pay teachers' salaries for a year."

The first vice president of the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP says a stadium in the West End will lead to gentrification and displacement. Joe Mallory says that's why the local chapter voted against the stadium deal. "In 10 years this community will look totally different than it does today," he says. "The property taxes will increase. Rents will increase. People will be displaced. Jeff Berding, team president said no one will be displaced."

He says a barber shop and a church on Central Avenue have been told they will be relocated if the stadium is built.

Councilman Wendell Young says he'd support a West End stadium if neighbors wanted it. He referred to a development in Hyde Park, and says there should be no difference. "Faced with a development there that some of them don't like, I can promise you that if that development is built it will not happen without substantial input from people in Hyde Park. That development may not look the same as it looks now, but people in Hyde Park will have the satisfaction of knowing that they had some say, that somebody had to listen to them."

Josh Spring with the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition is encouraging those opposed to the stadium to contact council members and to be at city hall when council considers an ordinance. The measure is expected to be debated next week.

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