Cincinnati mayor to unveil plan Friday for city to help fund FCC stadium

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - FC Cincinnati's president and general manager said a site in Newport is "absolutely" in play for a potential soccer-specific stadium and Hamilton County commissioners' offer to use Paul Brown Stadium is "a losing bid."

Still, Jeff Berding says, there's a desire to meet and talk with county leaders to try to work something out. On Friday, Mayor John Cranley will unveil a plan to help fund a stadium, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

FC Cincinnati has offered to pay for their own stadium, but they do want city and county officials to agree to help with infrastructure costs necessary to make one happen, likely in Oakley.

While Cranley is in full support of the effort to land an MLS expansion bid in December, Berding said he feels the county's help is necessary.

This week, county commissioners said their preferred option is to revisit the idea of FC Cincinnati playing in Paul Brown Stadium, where the Bengals play.

"It is fantasy. It is a losing bid," responded Berding, adding that MLS has made it clear that landing a bid would involve building at least a 21,000-seat soccer-specific stadium.

Berding said FCC has worked with the county for over month to compare a soccer-specific stadium and PBS.

The commissioners claimed Paul Brown Stadium would not negatively impact the club's revenue, but Berding says even if MLS agrees to the PBS option, it wouldn't be a financially smart move for the team.

"Year one in a soccer-specific stadium, we'd lose about $2 million. And in Paul Brown Stadium we'd lose about $17 million," he said.

Newport has the perfect location for a stadium should FC Cincinnati decide to build it just across the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky, City Manager Tom Fromme said in a statement Thursday.

The City of Newport understands and respects the decision by the owners of FC Cincinnati to locate its stadium in Cincinnati. We believe that the Ovation site in Newport would have made a tremendous site for the stadium and we continue to promote the site for a major economic development project. FC's interest in the site confirmed that the Ovation property has great potential for development. With the reworking of the KY 9 corridor with new investment coming into the west end of the city and with the city's commitment to bringing jobs, investment, visitors and residents to Newport, the Ovation site remains one of the most desirable pieces of property in the entire Midwest.

"Now that we have offered to privately finance on either side of the river, that unlocks some Newport challenges," said Berding.

Berding admitted Thursday there have been limited conversations with elected officials in Kentucky regarding the MLS bid.

MLS owners will meet in New York City in December to announce two expansion bid winners.

Berding hopes to have a finalized stadium plan by the first week in December.

Two other teams in play for the expansion, Sacramento and Nashville, already have finalized plans, according to Berding.

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