According to reporting from WCPO Channel 9’s Tanya O’Rourke & WKRC Local 12’s Brad Underwood, FC Cincinnati’s chances at building a Major League Soccer stadium in Oakley have taken a huge leap forward.
On Monday afternoon, Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune, County Administrator Jeff Aluotto and representatives of the other two Commissioners as well as the County Prosecutor spoke on a teleconference with representatives of Major League Soccer. At the end of the call, all parties came to the conclusion that Paul Brown Stadium would not fit into the league’s requirement for expansion markets.
Commission President Todd Portune shared his thoughts on the call in an interview with Local 12’s Underwood.
“At the end of the day they (MLS) said any application that is relying on a non-soccer specific stadium will not fit well on the leagues long-range plans,” says Portune.
While hosting the 11 pm show on WCPO, O’Rourke stated that Commissioner Denise Driehaus wanted to move forward with plan B (Oakley Stadium Parking Plan) along with fellow Commissioner Chris Monzel. Shortly after, WKRC’s Underwood reported that Portune & the Commissioners are prepared to move forward with a funding plan that provides the city of Cincinnati with an additional $1.5 million in hotel tax funds to be used for stadium infrastructure. That added tax money will help plug the funding hole for the city’s plan.
The only issue now is will the Commissioners and the Cincinnati City Council approve the funding measures in time.
On Monday night’s Cincinnati Soccer Talk show, FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding stated that the City of Cincinnati Finance Committee will deliberate on the city’s funding proposal on November 27th. The entire city council could vote on the measure on Nov. 29th.
O’Rourke tweeted that the County Commission could vote as early as the 27th, but more likely on the 29th pending the outcome of the city council vote.
— Tanya O'Rourke (@TanyaORourke) November 21, 2017
If the county does follow the similar schedule next week, Berding said that the club would “hope to have bid finalized by Dec. 4th in time to submit to MLS for the December 14th owners meetings.”
This situation now seems possible even with the time crunch. According to WCPO’s Craig McKee, this ‘time crunch” didn’t have to happen. McKee & O’Rourke report that the Hamilton County Prosecutors Office advised that FCC in PBS wasn’t an option due to the Bengals lease. This wrinkle must be explored further.
If time was so critical why did it take Hamilton County Commissioners several months to come to the conclusion that Paul Brown wasn't a viable option when @hamcopros says his office told them it wasn't an option per the lease, 3 months ago. #FCCincy @WCPO
— Craig McKee – WCPO (@McKeeWCPO) November 21, 2017
How will the Council Vote?
While the legislation will still be debated in official meetings, several city council members have come out in favor or against the mayors funding plan. On Tuesday Councilman PG Sittenfeld released a letter on his Facebook page detailing why he cannot vote yes on the plan as is. Sittenfeld mentions several reasons to support FC Cincinnati but states several hesitations including transparency, location (Oakley vs. West End) and dipping into the Blue Ash Airport sale fund as reasons to vote no.
As it stands City Council two city council members support the plan (Murray & Flynn), two members of council against the plan (Seelbach & Sittenfeld) and five undecideds. It is speculated that council members Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young would vote no with Councilman Chris Smitherman and Vice Mayor David Mann supporting the measure. This leaves “lame duck” Councilman Charlie Winburn as the deciding vote. Things may change rapidly over the next couple weeks so stay tuned to Cincinnati Soccer Talk.com.
We recommend visiting Local 12 & WCPO 9 for more details.
HOLY COW!!!!! Is this actually happening? Look, there is much more that has to happen for the stadium to be finalized. However, if the Commission is behind this plan and at least 5 council members approve Mayor Cranley’s legislation, the Oakley stadium is across the line pending an MLS bid.
Some fans may be disappointed by the final location of the stadium, but heck, isn’t the goal of the bid to get into MLS? You must need a Soccer Specific Stadium to do so.
Is that area perfect as is? No. Will these proposed improvements help? 100%. How many of us thought Nippert was going to be a phenomenal location right off the bat? Let’s show this plan some patience. Professing that you are going to stop supporting the club in Oakley is plain silly. I realize I’m going to offend people with that. I would/will say the same thing if the stadium ends up in Newport.
This is an incredible development and one that looks to get FC Cincinnati really close to the goal mouth, 1 v 1 with the keeper and a chance to win the match.
Thank you to all of our public officials and for all the work they’ve done to date. Your constituents give you plenty of grief, but if you do indeed get this accomplished, you will have earned our trust. Well, at least from the people that supported the plan.