FC Cincinnati’s bid for a Major League Soccer franchise cleared a huge hurdle as the City of Cincinnati Finance Committee approved Mayor John Cranley’s approx. $37 million funding measure. The plan received the five necessary votes in the affirmative to pass along the legislation to city council for an official vote on Wednesday, November 29th.
The deal which seemed dead on Sunday evening after the Oakley Community Council expressed doubts about TIF funds was edited by the mayor Monday morning and presented to the council. His new plan would redirect approx. $1.5 million in general fund dollars to the plan to free up TIF funds around the Madison Ave. corridor.
The finance committee comprised of eight city council members debated the measure for nearly four hours Monday afternoon before arriving at their official decision. Council members David Mann, Amy Murray, Christopher Smitherman and Kevin Flynn voted for the measure with committee chairman Charlie Winburn casting the deciding vote. Councilmen PG Sittenfeld and Chris Seelbach voted no while former mayoral candidate and current Councilwoman Yvette Simpson abstained.
Mayor John Cranley’s legislation should in theory pass on Wednesday if all five council members vote consistently. Councilwoman Simpson requested answers to several funding questions including which party would cover an estimated $20-$30 million funding gap in the plan. Members of the council along with Mayor Cranley were adamant that this plan would contribute zero dollars to the stadium itself. The supporters of the plan touted the additional opportunities that these infrastructure improvements would allow to the area.
FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding provided several answers to questions from council about funding concerns. While the club hasn’t finalized the exact cost for infrastructure (estimated $75 million) if the city passes this measure Wednesday, all parties can discuss the additional or different funding avenues if the club is awarded the bid to MLS.
The Hamilton County Commission also met on Monday. Commissioners Denise Driehaus, Chris Monzel and Commission President Todd Portune have scheduled a vote on Wednesday for their portion. It is likely that the commission will vote along the lines of the city if the measure is passed.
The club itself has doubled-down on its investment with an intent to purchase nearly 28+ acres of land for the project. FC Cincinnati’s stadium should encompass half of that purchase with the club intending to develop the other half. Berding comments suggested that it was possible the club may make all the effort necessary to provide fans with an atmosphere similar to the areas surrounding Clifton’s Nippert Stadium. This is a huge investment with the clubs ownership showing dedication to the Oakley development.
If both parties vote to proceed with their plans, FC Cincinnati will have at least one stadium site plan to present to Major League Soccer in time for their Board of Directors meeting on December 14th.
This is a big victory for the FC Cincinnati community. Make sure to check out our live show on Monday night at 9 pm as the crew discusses today’s events in detail. You can check out the show LIVE on Facebook or YouTube.