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Expansion Stadium Plans Look Dead in the Water in Ohio

Real Salt Lake isn't the only Major League Soccer club depending on local government to help raise money for a new stadium: A proposed cigarette tax by Ohio's Summit County to fund a new $170 million soccer stadium was rejected Tuesday by the Ohio General Assembly without consulting outside officials or county residents, placing the prospect of funds being raised for a new 20,000-seat soccer stadium in serious jeopardy, if not killing the plans altogether. "It's bad news, real bad news," project developer Paul Garofolo. While Ohio law permits counties to seek a tax of up to 4.5 cents without state approval, Summit County needed a levy of 30 cents per pack to pay for the bonds issued by the county's Port Authority for the new stadium with a retractable dome. That tax would yield around $210 million over 30 years. Garofolo said that $157 million in private development, including a hotel and two retail complexes, was dependent on construction of the stadium. "Everyone is baffled, and we're not sure what went wrong,'' Garofolo said. Critics aren't surprised by the outcome, saying that Garofolo failed to win over local legislators, focusing instead on lobbying Republican leaders in Columbus. The developer has until Dec. 31 to show MLS there is a firm plan for public funds to build the stadium, though Garofolo says he isn't optimistic this can be achieved before the deadline.

Read the whole story at Akron Beacon Journal »

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