The owners of F.C. Cincinnati have finally revealed their plans for a new stadium in the city’s West End — well, a plan, since if this doesn’t work they can still presumably pursue one in Oakley or in Newport, Kentucky — and if you enjoyed the now-rejected Detroit plans for an MLS stadium that involved tearing down a half-built jail and building a new jail elsewhere, you’ll love the Rube Goldbergness of this one, which goes a little something like this:
- F.C. Cincinnati would tear down Taft High School’s Stargel Stadium, a 3,000-seat stadium that is named for a revered local community activist, and which was only opened 13 years ago.
- The team would buy land across the street that’s currently planned to hold a community of model homes, and replace Stargel with a new stadium there of the same name.
- The team would replace the housing with new units on scattered sites it has the option to buy from the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority. (The team owners paid $100 for the option, but it’s not clear how much they would pay for the actual land.)
The West End is Cincinnati’s traditional African-American neighborhood, and lots of locals are already not thrilled about being used as part of a game of three-card stadium monte, especially given that the neighborhood was largely obliterated once already by urban renewal in the 1950s. There are also questions about how much public money the team would want — they’ve promised to build the replacement high school stadium with private funds, but there are a lot of moving parts here that could involve subsidies — and which parcels will pay property tax.
So, lots still to be determined, and that’s not even counting the fact that there’s still about a $25 million funding gap in F.C. Cincinnati’s initial stadium proposal. Now that the Detroit expansion group has backed down and proposed playing at the Lions‘ stadium instead, and Indy Eleven is playing at the Colts‘ stadium and NYC F.C. and Atlanta United are both playing in NFL (or MLB) facilities, you really have to wonder why the Bengals‘ stadium isn’t being considered as an option — not being considered by anyone but the Hamilton County Commission, that is. I know the trend now is for every sport to have its own stadium, but it’s kind of wasteful and ridiculous, especially when all of Europe is probably pointing and laughing at the U.S. at this point.