And then there were four: What is FC Cincinnati up against? - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

And then there were four: What is FC Cincinnati up against?

(FOX19 NOW file) (FOX19 NOW file)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Major League Soccer has announced Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, and Sacramento are finalists for two expansion bids to be announced in December.

Owners and officials representing the four prospective expansion markets will make formal presentations to MLS Commissioner Don Garber and the League’s Expansion Committee in New York on Dec. 6.

So what is FC Cincinnati and its passionate fan base up against in December? Well, according to the Sacramento Bee, Republic FC draws similarly raucous crowds:

Sacramento has long been considered a front-runner for expansion. The city’s second-division club, Republic FC, draws regular sellouts and the team has begun pre-construction work on a privately-financed soccer stadium in the downtown railyard.

FC Cincinnati's attempts to finalize plans for a soccer-specific stadium have not gone as smoothly as similar attempts in Sacramento and Nashville. According to the Tennessean, the Nashville's expansion stock soared after the city's approval of a public-private deal:

After the city's approval of a public-private deal for a $275 million 27,500-seat stadium at the city's fairgrounds earlier this month, Nashville's expansion stock has soared. Many MLS observers widely see Sacramento and Nashville as the two favorites to land a team, but with Cincinnati closing in on a stadium deal, it is firmly in the mix as well.

Hamilton County commissioners have been adamant about exploring the possibility of utilizing Paul Brown Stadium, the home of the Bengals, but MLS has made it clear it is looking for expansion clubs with soccer-specific stadiums.

The lack of a soccer stadium could hurt Detroit's bid for the 2020 expansion, though according to the Detroit Free Press, the Ford family is adding its weight:

It was announced earlier this month that the the Ford family would add its weight behind Detroit’s bid to land a MLS franchise with Ford Field the venue to host the team if the bid is successful.

The partnership ended plans to build a 23,000-seat stadium on the Gratiot Avenue jail site. The stadium was part of a development project that was estimated to cost $1 billion.

MLS has stated its preference for soccer-only facilities, but three billionaire families that own pro sports teams — Gores the Detroit Pistons, Gilbert the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Fords the Detroit Lions – the Detroit market could have a good chance to land a franchise. MLS also plans to add two more teams in 2022.

On Wednesday, Hamilton County commissioners approved $15 million for a 1,000-space parking garage and City Council approved $37 million for soccer stadium infrastructure at a site in Oakley.

RELATED: FC Cincinnati to use Oakley site in MLS bid; City, county to provide infrastructure help

This help falls short of the $75 million infrastructure price tag mentioned earlier this month, but team general manager Jeff Berding says the Oakley site will be part of the team's December pitch.

“We still have work to do. We’ve made a commitment, though, that the public will not have any exposure to debt. If we use the Port Authority as a financing tool, however that gets worked out, that’s going to have to be done in a manner that doesn’t give the public any exposure of debt," Berding said, adding several details still have to be worked out.

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