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FC Cincinnati Will Pay For Own Stadium

FC Cincinnati Carl Lindner III and GM Jeff Berding discuss an offer to privately fund a new stadium.
Tana Weingartner
FC Cincinnati Carl Lindner III and GM Jeff Berding discuss an offer to privately fund a new stadium.

Cincinnati's soccer club will pay for its own stadium in a bid to win a Major League Soccer Franchise. FC Cincinnati General Manager Jeff Berding says the team will pay for a $200 million facility if the county help pays for infrastructure around a stadium.

The team is asking Hamilton County commissioners to use revenues from the hotel tax to pay for a 1,000 space parking garage and road improvements. Berding says Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley identified the excess funds.

"There's an existing pot of money, $2.8 million that's entitled to 'other projects,'" Berding says. "This $2.8 million has no current users. This money is waiting to be used."

The funds would be needed for 30 years to cover the cost of the infrastructure improvements, according to the team.

Berding says the funds are meant to support tourism and promote the city. They're collected from the lodging tax so, Berding says, using them means no one's taxes would go up, nor would funds be taken away from other important county projects like the Western Hills Viaduct replacement.

The plan is designed with the team moving forward on a stadium site in Oakley where there are several parcels under consideration. However, if the county doesn't approve the idea, Berding says FC Cincinnati will switch its focus to the Newport Ovation location, and still privately fund the stadium.

Berding suggests Oakley is enjoying immense growth and the city and county will likely need to pay for infrastructure improvements around any future development anyway.

The Board of Commission meets Wednesday at 11 a.m. for its regular meeting and plans to address the stadium situation publicly afterward.

Commission President Todd Portune declined to comment other than to say "this offers new information for the county to consider."

Fellow commissioner, Chris Monzel, says he's still learning about the proposal and appreciates the team's offer of 100 percent private financing, but adds, "I want to make sure we can legally use the lodging tax funds."

Commissioner Denise Driehaus says she continues to vet the stadium issue. 

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Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.
Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio: and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.