Cincinnati mayor bids to end impasse over soccer stadium plan

FC Cincinnati received support from Cincinnati mayor John Cranley to close the gap in funding for infrastructure work -- roads, parking, improvements -- it needs to build the soccer stadium it deems essential to win an MLS expansion bid.

FC Cincinnati -- which appears to be in a three-way fight with Sacramento and Nashville for the two MLS expansion teams to be awarded in mid-December -- has proposed building a 21,000-seat stadium and paying for it itself. But it says it needs help paying for $70 million-$75 million in infrastructure work.

FC Cincinnati wanted Hamilton County to provide $2.8 million a year over 30 years from the revenues it collects on its "hotel tax" but doesn't distribute. Hamilton County commissioners balked at using those "hotel tax" funds and suggested FC Cincinnati should play at the NFL Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium.

Cranley offered a package that amounted to about $37 million in funding to go along with $15 million Hamilton County Commission has offered to specifically fund a 1,000-space parking garage for fans attending games at the stadium.

Cranley's plan:

-- $9.75 million from tax increment financing (money borrowed against future taxes collected at stadium events);
-- $7.4 million from the 2015 sale of Blue Ash Airport.
-- Upwards of $20 million from the city of Cincinnati's portion of the "hotel tax."

Cranley's pitch:

"This city routinely provides public infrastructure development for private investment. I believe we should treat FCC the same way. This investment isn't an earmark road for one entity. It is a public road, public infrastructure that will be for all of us to use, and for businesses to use who can locate near this site."

Opponents of public funding to support FC Cincinnati cite bad deals the city and county made to help build Paul Brown Stadium and Reds' Great American Ball Park.

Cranley's plan still requires the support of Cincinnati's nine-person city council. FC Cincinnati president/general manager Jeff Berding said on Thursday he needed to be able to go to MLS with FC Cincinnati's stadium proposal around Dec. 1.
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