MLS decides Cincinnati has held breath and turned purple enough, awards city expansion franchise

Six weeks after voting to approve $63 million in soccer stadium subsidies and yet still not getting an MLS expansion team, Cincinnati finally has an MLS expansion team:

“We fought hard over the last six months … to get a stadium site that is unprecedented,” [MLS commissioner Don Garber] said. “This could be Bernabéu. This could be Anfield. You have a stadium that’s going to be built in a great, great part of the community.”

Nice name-checking of the homes of the two Champions League finalists, though I regret to inform you that F.C. Cincinnati is never going to be in the European Champions League finals, for many, many reasons.

Anyway, the holdup was apparently to get all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted with Cincinnati’s stadium plan, which makes sense from the MLS’s point of view. Though maybe less sense when one considers that the t’s aren’t actually any more crossed than they were back in April:

Opponents of FC Cincinnati’s West End stadium could launch a petition drive to put a key part of a $50 million public financing package on November’s ballot, a referendum effort that could deprive the club of $17 million in public funding from the city for infrastructure and site preparation.

If voters killed such funding, it probably would not derail the stadium for the new Major League Soccer franchise, but organizers see it as a way to make the project more fiscally responsible for taxpayers at a time when the city of Cincinnati faces a budget deficit of up to $34 million.

So okay then. Either MLS thinks that the referendum drive will fail because the city structured its stadium vote as a no-referendum-backsies-allowed “emergency” measure, or they figure they can get some public body to pay the $17 million either way, or they were just sick of waiting around and needed to start selling season tickets. In any event, Cincinnati is now MLS’s 238th franchise (press reports say 26th, but it sure feels like 238); Sacramento, Detroit, and everybody else, please come back later to begin a new bidding war, because everybody gets bees an MLS franchise!


7 comments on “MLS decides Cincinnati has held breath and turned purple enough, awards city expansion franchise

  1. Taking all bets on whether Garber gets put through the guillotine next time he sets foot in Sacramento.

  2. I think the press reports meant to say this is Cincinnati’s 26th MLS franchise.

    • It’s actually the 29th franchise awarded. Miami, Tampa and Chivas USA all were awarded at some point but are now pining for the fjords.

      It’ll be the 24th to start play since Nashville doesn’t start until 2020 and Miami starts maybe sometime before the city sinks into the city sinks into the Atlantic.

  3. Is it possible that the referendum drive/referendum itself will fail because the city does not have enough money to print ballots or pay people to count them after having given away practically all their money to sports team owners?

    I mean, there has to be a natural limit to how many schools, police stations or hospitals can be closed or sold to fund private business subsidies (*even if that natural limit is, well, all of them).

  4. I have applied to trademark the name “Cincinnati Shortfall” in preparation for the new team’s debut. Though I am a little worried that the NFL may have beaten me too it after the Hamilton County/Bengals deal…