FC Cincinnati hopes to build a stadium on the site of Stargel Stadium in Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood. The Enquirer/Mike Nyerges
In 19 days, FC Cincinnati will know where it wants to put an MLS soccer stadium, President and General Manager Jeff Berding said Monday.
And, if it's in the West End, FC Cincinnati would pay Cincinnati Public Schools $100,000 in property taxes a year during stadium construction, the district announced Monday night. That's far short of what is expected on a $200 million project. But it's more than the roughly $70,000 being paid now on the same land.
Once the stadium is built, FC Cincinnati would pay $250,000 a year in property taxes for five years, $500,000 for each of the subsequent five years, and then beginning in 2032 the team would pay an amount based on its profit.
Cincinnati Public Schools released the information moments before the issue was set to be discussed at its Monday night board meeting. The item was added the agenda in handwriting, despite school board members previously pledging complete transparency in the process.
Berding, presenting to Enquirer editors earlier Monday, also revealed new details of the West End site just north of Taft IT High School. Among them: There will be a new, 1,000-space garage north of the stadium, and the stadium will sit north-south abutting Central Parkway. The garage is in addition to one already planned at the current city of WCET south of the site.
He also laid out benefits the team is ready to legally agree to with West End residents and what it's thinking about a deal with Cincinnati Public Schools. In addition to the payments and building a new Stargel, the club would create soccer programs in the 29 Cincinnati Public schools that don't already have one.
First up: The school district must approve a land swap to make room for the stadium. Without that, West End is off the table, Berding said.
In addition to the payments and building a new Stargel, the club is offering to create soccer programs in the 29 Cincinnati Public schools that don't already have one.
Berding also has been working to overcome West End residents' concerns about gentrification and homes being torn down. He called the rumors of evictions a myth, and said he'll guarantee in the community benefits agreement plan that no one will be displaced.
Some other elements he's discussing with members of the community:An ongoing community advisory council made up of residents. Committing to affordable, market-rate housing, only selling its 60 parcels to homebuilders who want to build a mix of housing dictated by the community advisory council. A buffer zone between the stadium, nearby homes and Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School. Local hiring priority for West End residents during both the construction and operation phases. Economic inclusion standards for minority- and women-owned businesses. A West End youth soccer program.
Cincinnati City Council must also approve the project, and three members are new since the November vote for an Oakley stadium. But West End infrastructure might cost the city less than it has already approved for improvements if the stadium goes to Oakley.
"It could be voted down," Berding said. "Then they could watch us have a press conference in Newport the next day."
Another hurdle for the West End: FC Cincinnati has not yet secured rights to all of the land it needs for the proposed site, between John Street and Central Parkway, he said.
Despite the West End talk, Berding has remained steadfast in not characterizing any of the three proposed sites for the stadium as "preferred."
He said he has spent months working to make West End, Oakley and Newport all "achievable." He hopes in the coming weeks each site reaches that point, and then the team and other interested parties can choose the best one.
Which one is that?
"The place where we can do the most good,” Berding said, “where the stadium is welcome."
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