Saturday, November 18, 2017

Soccer Takes Balls, As They Say

Cincinnati really tries to be a sports town, but frankly it just doesn't have the base to support too much in the way of major league sports.  The city's location may be great for transportation and distribution companies, but it's terrible for sports franchises.  

There are just too many other larger sports teams close to Cincy: Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Memphis and Charlotte are all a reasonable drive and compete for Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana sports fans.

FC Cincinnati won't get taxpayer help to build a new stadium in Hamilton County under a plan unveiled Wednesday. 
County commissioners rejected FC Cincinnati's pitch to use hotel tax money for a stadium and said the team should instead embrace the idea of playing games at Paul Brown Stadium on the riverfront. 
Instead, the county commissioners offered a plan to use parking revenues to pay for a $15 million garage for FC Cincinnati.

FC Cincinnati General Manager Jeff Berding, in response, said the club needs a soccer-only stadium if it wants to join Major League Soccer.

"Paul Brown Stadium would not support an MLS team, and any suggestion to the contrary is wrong," Berding said. "Therefore, Paul Brown Stadium simply does not work and does not result in a winning bid. It means a losing bid." 
Commissioner Todd Portune said the Bengals' home stadium, which is paid for through a county-wide sales tax, makes sense as a home for FC Cincinnati and would be far less costly than building a new, soccer-only stadium. 
"We believe Paul Brown Stadium can work," Portune said. "Paul Brown Stadium is our first option." 
His fellow commissioner, Chris Monzel, was more blunt: "The county already owns two stadiums. We don't need any more stadiums."

Whether the county's idea is enough to win FC Cincinnati a spot in Major League Soccer remains to be seen. Team officials have pushed for up to $75 million in taxpayer help to build a $200 million stadium in Oakley, which they say is the price of admission to MLS. 
The three commissioners did offer a Plan B to the team. If MLS rejects the proposal to play at Paul Brown Stadium, Portune said, the county would consider using some of its annual parking revenue to help pay for a parking garage for a stadium in Oakley.

The Oakley stadium still might come through, but there's no way in hell City Council is going to finance a $200 million soccer anything with county funding.  Not in this town.  If it gets done, it won't be with county money.

Odds are it won't get done in that case.  My biggest issue remains that the MLS Columbus Crew is just an hour away anyhow, with Atlanta and Chicago close by as well, and FC Cincinnati will go under quickly.  It makes much more sense for MLS to expand to Charlotte and Phoenix than Cincy next year.

I could be wrong, FC Cincinnati might be able to pull it off, but at this point I'm tired of $200 million stadiums when we don't have the money around these parts to say, fix the Brent Spence bridge.

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