FC Cincinnati proposal for a stadium site meets with continued opposition

Faced with what it says is a March 31 deadline to decide on a site for a soccer stadium if it is to be awarded an MLS expansion team, FC Cincinnati made its latest proposal to Cincinnati Public Schools to build the stadium at Taft IT High School's Stargel Stadium.

But the proposal was quickly rejected by Cincinnati Public Schools, which said FC Cincinnati's offer for property tax payments amounts to only a fraction of what they should get for the site of a $250 million stadium.

Offer. FC Cincinnati's offer included the following:

-- Incremental property tax payments, beginning at $100,000 a year during the construction phase;
-- Construction of a new high school stadium;
-- Funding to add soccer programs at Cincinnati schools that don't have one;
-- Grant programs for extracurricular activities; and
-- Free tickets to an MLS game for West End students.

FC Cincinnati offers an increase from $250,000 a year in property taxes for the first five years (2021-26) to $500,000 (2027-2031) and then up to $3.6 million a year, beginning in 2023, but that is based on club  profits.

Response. The issue is Cincinnati Public Schools calculates the property taxes it should receive from the stadium to be at least $2 million a year.

In a letter to FC Cincinnati's attorney, Brock Denton, Cincinnati Public Schools attorney Daniel Hoying said any agreement had to make the school system whole and include community stakeholders. Hoping added that any deal tied to FCC profits was unacceptable.

The proposed stadium deal has sparked intense debate at West End school board meetings and raised issues about the possible gentrification of the predominantly African-American neighborhood.

"Our kids don't need a ticket to a game," Michelle Dillingham, with the Cincinnati Educational Justice Coalition, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "They need a full-time librarian, counselors to help them apply to college, updated curriculum, and so much more."

Other options. West End is FC Cincinnati's preferred home for its stadium but not the only area FC Cincinnati president and general manager Jeff Berding has been looking at. Much of the fall was focused on Oakley, another Cincinnati neighborhood, but Newport, Kentucky, is also in the mix.

Cincinnati is considered the leading contender, ahead of Sacramento and Detroit, to land MLS's 26th team, but the process has dragged on. A decision had been expected to be announced by the beginning of March before the 2018 MLS season started.

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