Cincy may lack cash for MLS stadium because it has too many other sports venues to subsidize

About 100 F.C. Cincinnati fans attended a Hamilton County Commission meeting last night to urge the commission to spend $100 million on a new soccer stadium for the USL team, which is hoping to land an MLS expansion franchise. County Commission President Todd Portune, however, told them that “we have more projects than we have money,” with the county facing $1.5 billion in pending capital projects. Like, the county jail is overcrowded and needs expansion, and a new waterfront development project is still mostly undeveloped, and, um:

The city’s two current major league sports teams — the Reds and the Bengals — will eventually come knocking on the county’s door for a new deal. The Bengals stadium lease with the county expires in 2026 with the Reds’ lease expiring a few years after. Combined, the two stadiums could need more than $200 million in upgrades within the next decade.

“While no one is talking about demoing these stadiums, we know there will be substantial maintenance (needs),” [Hamilton County Administrator Jeff] Alutto said.

Those leases running out are worth planning ahead for, I suppose, but it’s still a little worrisome that Hamilton County is already budgeting for stadium renovation “needs” that the teams haven’t even asked for yet. Apparently either somebody hasn’t gotten the memo that it’s okay to demand that taxpayers not take a bath on stadium projects, or else Hamilton County leaders think that Cincinnati has less leverage to keep its teams without bribing them to stay, which, okay, maybe.

That said, the rest of the county’s wish list includes a $230 million convention center expansion and a $342 million rebuild of the city’s arena, neither of which exactly seems like a “need” per se. If the only choice for Hamilton County is which dumb project for private profit to sink public money into, I can sort of see why soccer fans would feel justified in saying, “Us first!” Too bad overcrowded prisoners don’t have fan clubs.

8 comments on “Cincy may lack cash for MLS stadium because it has too many other sports venues to subsidize

  1. Nippert Stadium hasn’t exactly been an impediment to FC Cincy drawing 21K per game for their team in the USL, a second-tier league to MLS (which itself is second-tier on a global scale). Of course, it’s never really about the facility with MLS…it’s about CONTROLLING the facility, which the University of Cincinnati is not likely to give up anytime soon.

  2. As we have seen in other cities , once a team request welfare , it’s not long before the other teams start crying for their cut. Don’t believe the Reds & Browns aren’t working behind scene to split that 100mil and block the new guys on the block.

  3. “Those leases running out are worth planning ahead for”

    If only that was actually happening. But does anybody really believe any current city leader is looking that far down the line? They’ll blow all the cash on either this deal or something else and by 2026 it’ll all be somebody else’s problem.

    • Actually, if I owned the Reds or Bengals, I’d be saying, “How about you give us $100m right now and we’ll offer to extend our lease a few years in exchange?”

      • With ideas like that if fieldofschemes doesn’t work out you can pay the rent doing sradium “refurbishments.” J/k