FC Cincinnati sticks fork in West End stadium plan after school district rejects tax break

F.C. Cincinnati‘s plans to build a soccer stadium on the site of a high school football stadium and then not pay very much in taxes on it are apparently dead, after Cincinnati’s public school district delivered a letter to team execs insisting that they pay full property taxes on the site:

CPS sent a letter to the soccer team holding its ground on what it wanted in tax payments. CPS argued that the district, even with tax abatements currently in play, should get more than $2 million a year – more than double what FC Cincinnati was offering.

In a letter from CPS lawyer Daniel Hoying, the school district called the 5 p.m. deadline set by FC Cincinnati Wednesday morning “unreasonable.”

“The Board of Education will not consider a proposed land agreement with FC Cincinnati unless the club promises to pay its fair share of property taxes,” Hoying wrote.

F.C. Cincinnati immediately issued a statement saying it “did not move ahead with the purchase of needed property for a West End stadium,” which presumably kills the deal.

This leaves the would-be MLS club with two options: the Oakley neighborhood of Cincinnati, and Newport, Kentucky, across the river. The Oakley plan has already been approved by the city council — over the unanimous objection of the local community council — but is far from the city center, while Newport is close to the city center but in another state. Team execs say they’ll pick a site by the end of the month, so we’ll see what haggling goes on between now and then; maybe we’ll even find out who’s going to be expected to fill that estimated $25 million funding gap for stadium construction, which nobody has been talking about since the whole site kerfuffle took center stage.

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17 comments on “FC Cincinnati sticks fork in West End stadium plan after school district rejects tax break

    1. Like Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Football Club of Cincinnati of Northern Kentucky. Go River Hoppers!

    2. That’s a good one. 2 other suggestions:

      A built in sponsorship:
      Kentucky Football Club (KFC)

      Or, truth in advertising:
      Soccer United of Cincinnati/Kentucky (SUCK)

  1. It looks like the US /Mexico/Canada World Cup bid is done. There had been rumors that FIFA was concerned some of their leadership might be arrested by the US

    Then today Vancouver and Chicago said they were dropping out of the bid process.

    If these FIFA demands are true you can see why.


  2. Isn’t the owner of the team worth > $2 billion? Soooo why is anyone paying for anything? Asking for a friend …

  3. Can anybody shed light on why they were negotiating directly with the school district? Because the school district on its own can’t just hand out property tax breaks, can it? Did elected officials say they’d be good with whatever the district approved? Just seems like a totally backward way to negotiate a deal.

    1. The land they want is directly owned by the school district. It would be the same as negotiations any other land owner.

      The difference is that the school district wasn’t willing to bend over backwards to give them the land, and the city wasn’t willing to piss off the school district since the district can make their lives difficult in other ways.

      1. I could be wrong, but that doesn’t appear to be what was going on. Giving the land to the team would be irrelevant from a tax perspective since taxes are typically based on land valuation determined via assessments rather than the sale price. The classic example is you could sell your house to your kids for $1 and it wouldn’t change the tax bill. Usually teams get tax breaks when elected officials vote to either waive/reduce taxes or give tax credits to the team. What I believe was happening here is that since the taxes go pretty much directly to the school district in this case the elected officials said they wanted no part of it unless the team could work things out with the district ahead of time. Assuming they could have reached an agreement with the district, it then would have fallen on the elected officials to finalize that deal into law.

        1. You’re wrong. The team wanted a land swap, and the school board said, “We’re not giving you the land unless you agree to pay $X in taxes.” At which point the team called the whole thing off.

          1. But they STILL would have needed elected officials to legislate their agreement into law, correct? Schools there don’t directly control tax rates, do they? Just seems weird there’s no mention of anybody other than the school being involved. You’d think some elected person would have been leading the charge or helping negotiate the deal.

  4. I have been following the MLS expansion situation from the beginning. I’m not sure if Neil or anyone else knows the answer to this: Is there a precedence for a league to do what MLS has done? By this I mean try and get expansion bids from 10+ cities all at once.

    My concern from the beginning was that this is fundamentally a set up to make 6+ cities losers and unhappy with MLS. Officials from Bexar County (San Antonio) already came out with a statement that the MLS was very underhanded and disingenuous in dealing with them (in various news articles a few months ago). The Sacramento fans have to feel burnt after having gone through the “keep waiting” game for years now. Opposition in neighborhoods in Cincinnati. Opposition to a stadium in Austin in the ugly Columbus Crew to Austin situation.

    Another question is through their own doings with they way they have handled expansion has MLS unwittingly manufactured bad feeling toward MLS in a number of communities. Or perhaps they don’t even care.

    Thanks, Neil. I have been following this website since the Sonic’s left Seattle.

    1. Yes. The NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL have done some thing similar in the past for their expansions, but it’s unique to franchised sports leagues, which are mainly North American based.

      1. So even if it creates some negative controversy is insignificant compared to going after stadium subsidies I suppose?

        1. I think they believe that the town will somehow forget a long time down the road.

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