MLS expansion: The wait continues in Cincinnati, but for how much longer?

Since MLS narrowed its expansion list down to four cities, and then three, after Nashville was named the league's 25th team, set to begin play in 2020, Cincinnati has been considered the favorite ahead of Sacramento (ready-to-go stadium project, under-financed ownership group) and Detroit (strong ownership, late change in stadium plan from building a downtown soccer stadium to sharing Ford Field with the NFL Lions).

When Nashville was announced before Christmas, MLS commissioner Don Garber said Cincinnati was in "a really good spot" and an announcement could be made "shortly." No one expected an announcement during the holidays, but an announcement was at least expected before the start of the MLS season on March 3.

More than three weeks later, there is still no announcement, and FC Cincinnati general manager Jeff Berding said no announcement should be forthcoming before FCC plays its USL home opener on April 7.

Three sites, no decision. Saturday is the deadline, Berding says, for FC Cincinnati to pick a site. The problem is that Berding seems to be no closer to nailing down a stadium site -- MLS has ruled out Nippert Stadium, owned by the University of Cincinnati, as a permanent home -- than he was in the fall when he worked frantically to line up a patchwork of funding to pay for infrastructure work in the Oakley neighborhood.

Berding has since pursued a site in Cincinnati's West End, a high school stadium, but FC Cincinnati appears to remain far apart with the Cincinnati Public Schools board of education on a deal. The school district wants $2 million per year in property taxes on a stadium site; FC Cincinnati offered up to $750,000 a year.

A third possibility remains the city of Newport, across the Ohio River, in Kentucky.

The latest twist came on Tuesday when a meeting between the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority and FC Cincinnati was called off by Authority chairman Charlie Luken, expressing concerns that his agency was being "used as leverage." The Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority is a potentially important body in the complicated land deal in Oakley and could save FC Cincinnati millions of dollars in taxes related to the construction and use of a soccer stadium.

Miami indecision. That FC Cincinnati has jumped from site to site is not unusual.

Even after more than four years of work, David Beckham's Miami group, whom MLS formally confirmed in January, is again on the move, seeking out alternative sites to the Overtown site.

Nashville was picked because its mayor, Megan Barry, who has since resigned after pleading guilty to theft in relation to an affair she was having with he head of her security detail, engineered a deal to fund the construction of a soccer stadium at Nashville Fairgrounds, but two Metro Council members on Tuesday asked the city to consider alternate sites.

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