No more fighting: Parking garages for both FC Cincinnati and Findlay Market

No more fighting: Parking garages for both FC Cincinnati and Findlay Market
FC Cincinnati's new West End Stadium will have 830 more spaces of structured parking thanks to a deal hammered out with Hamilton County. (FC Cincinnati)

CINCINNATI (The Enquirer) - Soccer fans will soon have a place to park at FC Cincinnati’s new stadium in the West End.

And Findlay Market shoppers will also get a new garage in a deal cut between Hamilton County and the soccer team.

The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners passed the deal Thursday night, according to FOX19 NOW’s media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Under the deal – months in the works – the county will build an 800-space parking garage just north of the stadium and then, after that's finished, build another garage near Findlay Market with at least 300 spaces.

County officials said they haven't determined how much it will cost to park in the facilities.

Who gets the money?

Under terms of the deal, the team would get 85 percent of parking revenue on game days from the 830-850 space garage at Wade and John streets in the West End. There are 17 home games on FCC’s 2020 schedule, which is typical of future schedules.

It will be on the site of the former Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, which is directly north of the stadium.

The team would also get 85 percent of revenue from another 100 surface lot spaces on land where the Findlay Market garage will go, and later when it is built, from 300 garage spaces. That site has not been disclosed.

On other days when there isn’t a soccer game, concert or other stadium event, the county is set to get 100 percent of the garage revenue.

If the county doesn't make enough off the garage to meet debt and repair expenses, the game-day revenues will be split 50/50 on both garages for a limited number of years (years 3-12 on the garage by the stadium and the first three years of the Findlay garage.)

Planning documents filed with the City of Cincinnati earlier this month show the team is seeking to build the garage between Wade and Bauer streets in the West End, which would eliminate Wade Street between John Street and Central Avenue. That plan has yet to be approved by the Cincinnati Planning Commission.

The stadium garage is expected to break ground as soon as February, opening when the stadium does in 2021. The deal calls for the Findlay Market garage to start construction no more than 12 months after that.

FC Cincinnati is delivering the Jehovah's Witness site pad-ready, at its own cost. But because the county is solely responsible for construction, the county will also be responsible for maintenance when needed.

How did we get here?

In 2017 the Board of Hamilton County Commissioners took three votes pledging to build a 1,000-space parking garage near the stadium site. But soon after, the make-up of the commission changed and concern from county officials grew about making sure the county did not lose money on the garage.

A recent iteration of a proposed deal, obtained by the Enquirer, showed the county wanted to infuse $3 million into the project and borrow the rest of the needed money, with the team covering any shortfalls in the financing.

That is no longer part of this deal.

In the new deal, the financing is up to the county. In the agreement, FC Cincinnati agreed to support the county's request to the General Assembly for $5 million.

The team is building a $250 million stadium in the West End. Cincinnati City Council approved almost $35 million in funding help for infrastructure needs. The garage will sit just north of the stadium on land that is Wade Street now, a request pending before the Cincinnati Planning Commission.

The team has scooped up land surrounding the stadium intended for mixed-use development. City planning documents show zoning for bars and restaurants and possibly a hotel. Under this deal, should a hotel be developed on team-owned land, the garage would provide the parking, further ensuring the garage does not lose money.

Late Thursday evening, the club and Hamilton county released the following joint statement:

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