CST Round Table: FC Cincinnati to Oakley?

FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding set social media ablaze Wednesday night as he announced that the club is targeting Oakley as the home of the clubs potential MLS Stadium. While on 700 WLW with Lance McAlister, Berding spoke on the necessity of locking down the site soon and that a formal announcement will be made “within the week”. (LINK TO AUDIO)

An Ohio site seems to fit in the general preference of the Cincinnati fan base. The Build It Here group supporting FC Cincinnati remaining in Ohio had this to say.

“Build It Here is excited about the announcement from FC Cincinnati leadership regarding the selection of Oakley as a preferred site for the new soccer-specific stadium. We are pleased to see this commitment from the ownership group, led by Carl Linder III, to bring Major League Soccer to the City of Cincinnati in the historic and vibrant neighborhood of Oakley.

We will continue to push our elected leaders, especially Hamilton County Commissioners Denise Driehaus, Chris Monzel, and Todd Portune, to offer support to this vision of world class soccer and a world class soccer facility here in our beautiful city. It is our hope that soccer can be a new anchor for development and civic pride as Cincinnati continue to undergo its 21st century renaissance. We encourage everyone who shares this vision to make their voices heard via phone calls, e-mail and all social media platforms in the coming days.”

Not everyone was so receptive to the site so we wanted to address a couple questions received on social media as well as the ramifications of the MLS bid. Check out our thoughts below.

Question 1: What is your initial impression from last nights statement from Jeff Berding that Oakley is being targeted by FC Cincinnati?

Griffin – It was impressive to see that the club are truly working on building the stadium IN Cincinnati. I thought Newport was a lock because of the supposed ease of transaction. I personally will show up where ever the stadium is built but I think the club will benefit by staying in Cincinnati.

Boston – FC Cincinnati has found a way to reach the Ohio fans. I had pretty much given up hope on a Cincinnati side stadium and threw my lot in with the Newport crowd. So when I found out about the Oakley stadium I was initially shocked. I am glad to see the club is doing their homework and not just going with the easiest route available.

Brad – My feelings are mixed because I glad the stadium could be in Ohio but was hoping it was going to be in OTR. Even though Oakley has undergone a revival, it does not have the same “community” charm to me as OTR or Newport. With the size or lack thereof our city, my feeling is that we need to blow MLS away with our proposal and this Oakley doesn’t do it for me. It reminds me too much of other stadiums out of the downtown area that have failed in the long term. Granted Oakley is different from Frisco Tx or Rio Tinto but it is still not in the downtown area and that gives me pause.

Bryan – Well, we don’t have to hear FC Newport or Kentucky FC (KFC) if this move goes forward. To me, it makes a lot of sense even though it is far from my preferred location. It is in close proximity to a majority of our season ticket holders up I-71 and offers access to the West-Side via the Norwood Lateral. I am disappointed that the odds of West End stadium look slim, and I never believed the urban setting in Newport would have been a perfect option. Oakley is booming and I think this could foster even more growth. People also remark how UC students come due to the proximity. Switch that with hundreds if not thousands of young professionals in that area. Seems like support would grow. Plus, I like having FC Cincinnati IN Cincinnati proper.

Question 2: Does this location increase or decrease our chances of landing an MLS expansion franchise?

Nick – I think it increases our chances. The one box that isn’t currently ticked for this organization right now is the stadium question. Personally, I’m ok with Oakley. I’m honestly at a point where I don’t care where it’s built. I’ll support no matter where it goes. The commitment from ownership, ticket sales, merchandise, everything involved FC Cincinnati at the moment is awfully hard to pass up.

Griffin – Oakley may not be the first choice build site for fans or the club. But the bottom line is we have to keep all options on the table. Oakley will not have the visual appeal of a nationally televised match on the Ohio River or the trendiness of an OTR stadium but overall I think it will have little impact on our bid for MLS. The committee has clearly seen our following and support and I think that speaks more highly than stadium locations.

Brad – It’s better than not having one at all but honestly I don’t know if it affects it too much because Nashville has an even worse site and they look to be our main competition. If this would have been the two other sites I would have said it puts us in the pole position. With FCC failing to get the stadium a prime area, I am scared that MLS could overlook us for the bright lights of an unproven NashVegas market.

Boston – I do not believe it increases nor decreases FC Cincinnati’s MLS chances. All three sites are in the “core” area of Cincinnati and that was the primary concern of MLS. The Cincinnati bid has always been about more than a stadium. Sure a 200 million+ new soccer-specific stadium in Oakley is nice but this city will show up regardless. Cincinnati buys merchandise. Cincinnati business already supports soccer. The Cincinnati bid is built around the brand. Go to Nashville and ask 100 random people to identify the Nashville SC logo, do the same in Sacramento and Cincinnati. FC Cincinnati will win every time you do this survey because this whole city recognizes the brand.

Bryan – While I want FC Cincinnati in Cincinnati proper, I’m not sure Oakley makes the bid bulletproof. MLS was clear that they preferred the stadium in an urban setting. The views and urban setting in the West End would have guaranteed the growth of downtown/OTR for decades and I think it is a missed opportunity if Oakley or Newport would have been selected. Luckily there isn’t a 2nd city that has a “perfect bid” so Oakley may get FCC across the finish line. While it isn’t perfect, coming with 1 and potentially two options for MLS to choose from could only strengthen the bid.


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