CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Hamilton County commissioners believe there is a Plan A and a Plan B when it comes to pursuing an MLS expansion bid in a taxpayer-friendly manner.
Plan A is using Paul Brown Stadium. Plan B is using parking revenues to help build a parking structure at a potential soccer-specific Oakley site.
When asked if the MLS would support Paul Brown Stadium, FC Cincinnati president and general manager Jeff Berding said this via text Wednesday: "Never, never, never."
Earlier this month, Berding said a soccer-specific stadium would be crucial in landing an MLS expansion bid in December. He said two other front runners for the league's 25th and 26th slots, Nashville and Sacramento, already have finalized plans.
Commissioners said Wednesday that Hamilton County is willing to partner with FC Cincinnati and the city of Cincinnati for the purpose of addressing the facility needs expressed by the team, but a new soccer-specific site is not the preferred option.
The New England Revolution play at Gillette Stadium, where the Patriots play. Hamilton County commissioner Todd Portune believes the MLS should be open to a similar situation unfolding in Cincinnati (Paul Browns Stadium is where the Bengals play).
FC Cincinnati has offered to privately fund a soccer stadium, but the club needs the city and Hamilton County to cover the estimated $75 million infrastructure costs. This, again, is a Plan B in Hamilton County's eyes. Commissioners said Wednesday it would be open to using parking revenues to help with a soccer-specific site.
Portune feels the county owes it to the taxpayers to pursue Plan A as far as possible.
Under Plan B, the county would use money from Riverfront parking revenues to build a 1,000-space parking garage in Oakley.
"This is not tax money, not taxpayer-generated money, not money that comes from taxes paid by the people of Hamilton County or people visiting Hamilton County, but money from our parking revenues," Portune said.
Below is FC Cincinnati's full statement, released Wednesday: