School board disappointed in FC Cincinnati tax payment offer

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati Public School board members are disappointed in the amount of money FC Cincinnati hopes to pay in taxes if the district approves a land exchange deal for the team to build a $10 million soccer-specific stadium in the West End.

The team is offering to pay the district $100,000 in annual  property taxes. The school property tax payment would peak at $500,000 in 2031. After that, payments could generate up to $3.6 million.

But CPS officials say that offer is less than what a development of that size would typically pay. A property valued at $250 million could pay an estimated $2.8 million annually to the schools, they note.

"It's not in the best interest of our schools and our district to accept what they have proposed. That is not acceptable to us," said CPS President Carolyn Jones.

Currently, CPS is making $70,000 in property taxes on the site.

"We're going to pay property taxes at a level that's greater than what CPS is receiving now," said FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding.

The team has to decide by March 31 which of three sites they will build a Major League Soccer stadium if they are awarded an expansion team.

They also have locations in Oakley and Newport.

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If the stadium goes in the West End, the team would build a new $10 million high school stadium for the district so the club could take over the current Stargel Stadium site.

West End residents have raised concerns about gentrification, but Berding says the team will bring a catalyst of opportunity to the area.

"The West End residents would be the first source for all jobs," he said.

The latest proposal also claims the soccer club would implement soccer programs at 29 CPS schools that don't offer the sport.

Berding plans to host community events such as meetings, movie nights, and high school championship games.

CPS has not scheduled a date for a vote on the latest proposal.

MLS franchises don't make a whole lot of money, Berding said, citing Forbes.

"So, we do have a limit to what we believe we can do as we get started," he said.

"Long-term, we want to be good corporate citizens and we want to work with CPS that as we grow and MLS grows, the popularity of the sport, television grows that those tax payments can grow. If all of us recognize our vision we can pay that full amount."

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