F.C. Cincinnati gets its stadium land after school board lowers its price

F.C. Cincinnati‘s once-dead West End stadium plan continued its resurrection tour yesterday, as the Cincinnati Public School board approved a land swap that will provide the team with the site of Willard R. Stargel Stadium in exchange for a vacant lot where a new high school football venue will be built to replace it. And the crowd went wild:

A crowd of nearly 50 people, some of them holding signs opposing the deal, chanted “Shame!” following the vote.

The school board said it got what it wanted in exchange for the land, but it really didn’t: It’s getting roughly $1 million a year in property tax payments instead of the $2 million a year it initially said it was due. And while F.C. Cincinnati’s owners agreed to add a community benefits agreement with local community members, they’ve already decided unilaterally how much they’re going to put into any community fund, and anyway the stadium deal will be approved before the CBA is negotiated, so the West End will pretty much end up liking it or lumping it, or at best haggling over how to divide the boodle — which is pretty much par for the course with CBAs.

CPS Board President Carolyn Jones said the board made the decision after weighing the benefits of getting new revenue for schools and the opposition of many vocal West End residents, concluding, “Like I always said, it’s a no win-win situation.” I’ve never actually heard that particular idiom before, but it’s oddly apropos for stadium subsidy deals.


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5 comments on “F.C. Cincinnati gets its stadium land after school board lowers its price

  1. This seems like a good deal for the West End community. They will be getting $1 million a year in taxes that they would not otherwise be getting. That’s real money that can go to improving the neighborhood. Do you see anyone else offering them $1 million a year? Of course you don’t. They would be foolish to turn down an offer like this.

    1. You cannot honestly believe a PROSPECTIVE team owner will be paying $1 million dollars a year for nothing; they will obviously receive benefits greater than their monetary costs.

    2. The issue is the District valued the land at $2M according to rates for the area. And a prospective owner who stands to gain even more than that can’t be bothered to pitch in his fair share. And this is considering a 50% discount is low and more favorable to the public than other deals. Though, there’s still plenty of time for FC Cincinnati to find other ways to reap what the people’s tax dollars sow.

  2. Hello, your article is inaccurate. The School Board did not “lower its price.” The CPS School Board consistently stated it expected FC Cincinnati to pay taxes in accordance with the Board’s 1999 Tax Abatement Agreement with the City. As an example, if the stadium was valued at $250million, the club’s tax responsibility would have been $2 million. Based on a potential value of $175 million, the tax responsibility would be a different amount.

    You can find all of the correspondence between the Board and FC Cincinnati on the Board’s website: https://www.cps-k12.org/about-cps/board-of-education/FCC-proposal

    1. That’s not what the documents you linked to say. For example:

      “Consistent with the framework established in CPS’s 1999 agreement with the City of Cincinnati (the “1999 Agreement”), FC Cincinnati will pay PILOTs to CPS equal to 25% of what its property tax liability would have been on the FCC Stadium without a property tax abatement.”

      It’s a complicated deal, where F.C. Cincinnati will get a full property-tax abatement, then will pay payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) equal to a percentage of what the actual taxes would be, but front-loaded and recalculated to present value. I’m not going to do all the math on that, but suffice to say that cutting the valuation by 30% (from $250m to $175m) can’t in itself result in a reduction in property taxes of 50%. Also, why are they now using the $175m construction cost as the valuation? That’s not usually how property assessments work.

      In short: The CPS originally said it wanted $2m a year, now it’s settling for close to $1m. That’s lowering its price.

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