Oakley leaders reject FC Cincinnati stadium plan on eve of vote

Oakley leaders reject FC Cincinnati stadium plan on eve of vote
A proposed stadium design released in 2017. (Provided by FCC)

Cincinnati Enquirer - The Oakley Community Council rejected Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley's stadium funding plan on the eve of City Council's vote on a deal Sunday night.

They are calling for a new soccer-specific venue to be built in a neighborhood on the city's east side.

Will the community council's unanimous vote convince city leaders to kill this deal?

The answer will be in known in a matter of hours.

City Council's budget committee is set to meet at 11 a.m. Monday. They will vote on a plan to spend $37 million in public money on stadium-related infrastructure.

Cranley's plan calls for the city to help fund infrastructure around a proposed 21,000-seat stadium in Oakley Station, part of an effort to help bolster Futbol Club Cincinnati's Major League Soccer expansion bid.

Regardless of how Monday's vote goes, Oakley leaders aren't happy about the lack of public input on the stadium plan.

The community council expressed concerns in a resolution they passed about the stadium potentially using up all of the area's tax-increment financing money.

That would keep it from going to other projects in the thriving Oakley Station development, they say.

"The OCC Board believes that this proposal could be detrimental to the long-term development needs of Oakley," community council President Sean Fausto said in a statement Sunday.

"Current development projects within Oakley have requested access to these same TIF funds, including one project co-sponsored by the city and the Oakley Community Council."

Cranley's plan calls for money from surrounding tax increment financing (TIF) districts in Oakley to be redirected to the stadium infrastructure.

But the proposed 16-acre site does not actually fall in these districts. This is expected to provide $9.7 million to help build streets, parking, sidewalks and sewers around a new stadium.

The OCC Board voted Nov. 7 to support a stadium vision presented by FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding.

But Fausto said that vision "did not include, and the OCC Board neither discussed nor took action with regards to, any details of the financing for the FC Cincinnati stadium or the public infrastructure improvements."

FC Cincinnati plans to pay $200 million to build the stadium structure itself. The club has been seeking between $70 million and $75 million in public money for infrastructure to support the stadium.

The community council's vote earlier this month, Fausto said, "was not a green light for the city and FC Cincinnati to move forward, but rather was a yellow light to proceed, subject to continuing discussion with the entire community."

It remains unclear what council will do. It needs five votes to pass, but Council Members Amy Murray and Kevin Flynn have been the only ones on council to publicly say they're voting for it.

Councilmen P.G. Sittenfeld and Chris Seelbach have been on record as saying they're opposed to the plan.

Everyone else is either undecided or haven't publicly discussed their position.

Enquirer political columnist Jason Williams contributed to this report.