We finally have it! The City Council of Cincinnati, as announced by councilmen P.G. Sittenfeld and David Mann, agreed to a site and the West End neighborhood will be where the new stadium is going to be built for FC Cincinnati. What will happen according to a bizjournals.com article is that:
- “FC Cincinnati would build its $200 million stadium at the site of Cincinnati Public Schools’ Stargel Stadium as well as pay for a new high school stadium in the southwest corner of Ezzard Charles Drive and John Street.
- The club will pay $25 million in taxes to the Cincinnati Public Schools, the full payment in lieu of taxes to the school district that any other commercial development that receives a tax abatement would make – 25 percent of the total millage on the stadium site.
- The club will donate vacant residential West End land it acquired in the northwest corner of Ezzard Charles Drive and John Street to a private developer who will build $15 million and 162 units of affordable housing there in partnership with the city. Concerns over displacement of existing low-income residents has been the primary fear in the West End regarding the stadium and something Sittenfeld said was foremost in his mind. When Interstate 75 was built and wide swaths of the neighborhood were demolished, tens of thousands were displaced.
- The team and the city will strike a community benefits agreement with West End neighborhood groups, the details of which are expected to include infrastructure improvements in the neighborhood, a residential parking permit program, mitigation of noise, light, litter and other issues as well as $100,000 annually in funding from the club to community groups in perpetuity. Those groups will include Little Senators Youth Sports, the creation of a West End Athletic Association, a Mortar West End entrepreneurs program and the Q Kidz dance group, according to Sittenfeld.”
The plan was endorsed by former Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory (infamously known for his horrendous first pitch on Reds Opening Day in 2007), five heads of major labor unions, and Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
All sounds fine and dandy right? Not really. While it’s great for the team and possibly the neighborhood, it could cause some consequences. In the bizjournals.com article, here is a block quote as to what could cause some problems:
“Keith Blake, president of the West End Community Council, whose members voted down the idea of locating the stadium in the neighborhood, said it would take more talks between stakeholders to build the trust needed to change attitudes.”
The West End neighborhood is not particularly keen on having them there either. The intention is also help build up the neighborhood too and even hope it brings jobs. Sounds great, but the neighborhood didn’t want them.
There’s a perfect place for that stadium across the river in Newport, Kentucky which was a great spot and the town wanted them too. There were bars on the other side of the river back in the city at The Banks where people could grab food and drinks, and even back over in Kentucky with Newport on the Levee and Covington where there are more places to eat and drink. But nope, the team didn’t want that place for some odd reason. It was the logical place for the stadium and yet it wasn’t taken upon. I have to say if Newport really wanted them and West End didn’t, you have to go to Newport.
Why a stadium was needed as prerequisite to join Major League Soccer is beyond my comprehension as well. The city has proven it could handle a professional soccer team and it even has a huge fan base here. A stadium down the road is fine and I agree with, but just to get into the League is what I think is ridiculous.
With the expected announcement of getting a MLS team later today is great for the city, but when I attend the Announcement Party down at Fountain Square, there is definitely going to be a bad taste in my mouth after all what was discussed here. I feel like we have been extorted into getting a team and I also feel like that all sides were not heard before making the final decision.
Otherwise, I’m glad that all this drama is over. Bring on MLS soccer.