Cincinnati considers offering Bengals’ stadium as home for MLS team, seeing how that flies

Cincinnati really does appear to be one of the front-runners for an MLS expansion franchise, based on its record attendance for the minor-league F.C. Cincinnati, but local soccer advocates are worried about the league’s stated rule that any new teams need to bring with them new team-controlled soccer-only stadiums. (Which worrying is exactly the goal of said rule.) So while some people still dream of applying to have an MLS team play at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium, the Hamilton County Commission is wondering, hey, maybe MLS would like the Bengals‘ stadium better?

Commissioners are offering up the stadium, which county taxpayers own, as a solution to keep FC Cincinnati in Ohio — without spending the $100 million from the public the team says it needs to build a $200 million stadium.

“We own a stadium on the riverfront, that from my understanding, soccer can be played at,” Hamilton County Commission Vice President Denise Driehaus said. “I’ve asked the (county) administration to take a hard look at Paul Brown, to pursue it or get it off the table.”

Yes, soccer can be played at Paul Brown Stadium, just as it can be played at Nippert. And sure, maybe MLS will be placated by a non-soccer-specific facility that isn’t owned by the local team if it’s a non-soccer-specific stadium that has nicer cupholders. But since MLS has made pretty clear that it intends to conduct its expansion decision as a stadium arms race — consistent with its greater mission of getting as much short-term cash as possible, because who knows what the future may hold, especially now that any hope of getting an attendance boost from the draw of seeing next year’s U.S. World Cup stars just went out the window — they probably would be just as well off saying, “We’ve got a terrific market, you’ll just have to put up with our oldish stadium if you want us,” and see how that works out. Probably poorly, but when the alternative is spending $100 million you don’t have, it’s worth a shot, anyway.


14 comments on “Cincinnati considers offering Bengals’ stadium as home for MLS team, seeing how that flies

  1. The goal isn’t to get stadium subsidies from the government. The goal is to have a stadium that facilitates the making of big cash. Hopefully MLS pushes for New Riverfront Stadium’s field to be widened, but otherwise this idea will work.

  2. Sounds like a plan , FCC can expect to give all their parking , concession & merchandise profits to the Bengals. Also they’ll need the Bengals to OK any Sponsor deals. Which means they won’t have any Sponsor deals. This is how it went down in Chicago when the Fire played at Bears stadium.

  3. Sounds like how Columbus OH’s success with the Chill begat the Blue Jackets in a private Nationwide Arena, until they got bailed out by public dollars.

  4. At least Stadiums/Arenas are done at the Local and State level and it’s typically put as a ballot measure. In addition to that most of the taxes come from hotel and rental taxes i.e. outsiders are funding it.

    Having said that I understand the argument about public funding for private stadiums, but I would argue tax payers shouldn’t be forced to fund things like NASA or Planned Parenthood.

    I would argue why should local/state tax payers who don’t have kids or they home school or send their kids to private school be forced to pay for other people’s kids to go to school.

    • “At least Stadiums/Arenas are done at the Local and State level and it’s typically put as a ballot measure.”

      Actually, it’s almost never put before voters as a ballot measure. In California, yes, elsewhere generally no.

      “In addition to that most of the taxes come from hotel and rental taxes i.e. outsiders are funding it.”

      Those hotel taxes could be spent on anything else, though, so it’s still coming out of the general public’s pocket.

      I’ve heard the arguments about public schools or NASA (for some reason people usually seem to focus on opera houses) — ultimately it comes down to what you consider a public service and what you don’t. It’s generally accepted that things like providing an education, clean drinking water, police protection, etc., are things that we don’t want to leave to private enterprise, because a world where you could only call the cops if you showed your Police Membership Card would not be a good world at all. The right for a sports team owner to turn the level of profit he desires is a few steps in priority below that, I’d say.

  5. I don’t see this happening or the city giving any money to FCC. I do however see additional renovations at the NFL & MLB facilities.

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