It looked for a minute there yesterday like F.C. Cincinnati‘s stadium subsidy demand was going to die an ignominious death, after the community council of the Oakley neighborhood where the stadium would go voted unanimously to oppose the deal on the grounds that it would soak up all of the area’s tax-increment financing money and leave nothing for other projects.
That didn’t happen — after a four and a half hour meeting yesterday, the Cincinnati city council voted 5-2 with one abstention and one absence (Wendell Young is still out after September heart surgery) to approve between $27 million and $37 million in public money for the project. But with team owners insisting they need $70-75 million in taxpayer subsidies to make a $200 million stadium happen, that still may not be enough to get the job done. Oh yeah, and also the team may still not want to build in Oakley after all — take it away, Cincinnati Enquirer politics columnist Jason Williams:
[Team president Jeff] Berding opened the door to the possibility that Oakley might not even be where the stadium ends up.
“The mayor and council may work with us to say it might be in a different neighborhood,” he said.
Said Councilman Kevin Flynn: “It may not be in Oakley. It may be somewhere else.”
Okay, then! Williams reports that “City Hall insiders” said $27 million of the city funds will still be available wherever a stadium is built in the city, so the F.C. Cincinnati owners can now shop around for the best deal. Though regardless of where they go, it sounds like the county isn’t interested in filling the team’s self-imposed funding gap, so … MLS is going to have a really interesting time deciding whether this is enough of a new-stadium commitment to hand Cincinnati an expansion franchise, let’s just put it that way.
If the league is just looking for enough cover to put a team in a city that has turned out for lower-division soccer in record levels, maybe this will do it. If, on the other hand, they’re just looking to use the expansion process to extract the most stadium cash from cities, they can pick two other winners next month (Nashville and Sacramento, say), and tell Cincinnati “close, but we’ll need another $25 million by next offseason before you get a cigar.” Three guesses which one my money is on.