FC Cincinnati owners to privately fund soccer stadium, but seek county money for infrastructure

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Should Hamilton County help to pay for infrastructure like parking and roads for a soccer-specific stadium that is key to FC Cincinnati landing an MLS expansion bid?

We are expected to find out Wednesday.

Cincinnati is one of three potential cities that could land an MLS expansion bid in December, a report this week suggests.

FC Cincinnati is willing to privately finance $200 million for a 21,000-seat stadium somewhere in the Tri-State, team president and general manager Jeff Berding said in a surprise news conference Tuesday,

Oakley and Newport, Ky. are potential sites.

The only remaining piece, according to Berding, is up to $75 million from the city and county for site infrastructure such as parking, roads, and similar improvements.

He said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley supports the project, and has identified potential city and county resources to help fund the project such as the visitor occupancy tax.

"Currently, the visitor occupancy tax, the transit occupancy tax that visitors pay when they come to greater Cincinnati, to Hamilton County, and stay at our hotels -- that tax revenue, existing tax revenue, spins off an extraordinary amount of money to the city and county," Berding said.

"It's rather complicated, the flow of funds, but there's an existing pot of money, $2.8 million that's entitled to other projects. This $2.8 million has no current users," he said.

"This money is waiting to be used. It's waiting for a project that will draw visitors to the area, that will improve tourism, that will promote our city."

Cincinnati, Sacramento, and Nashville are in the running to become the league's 25th and 26th teams, according to Grant Wahl with Sports Illustrated, who cited insiders. MLS owners will gather in New York City on Dec. 14 to make a decision.

"It's our bid to lose," said Carl Lindner III, CEO of FC Cincinnati. "County commissioners need to understand that. This one's a lay-up."

Berding said the team is looking at several parcels in Oakley for the stadium.

This week, Mercy Health and FC Cincinnati announced a partnership in support of the club's bid to join MLS. The partnership represents a jersey sponsorship commitment.

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