Industry News

Cincinnati MLS bid back on track as council approves stadium plan

United Soccer League club FC Cincinnati has been handed a major boost in its bid to enter Major League Soccer (MLS) after the City Council voted to approve plans to build a new stadium for the team.

The City Council budget and finance committee passed the measure by a vote of 5-2, with FC Cincinnati now having clearance to push ahead with plans to build the new stadium at a cost of approximately $200m (€168.2m/£150.1m).

Doubts had been raised over the future of the project after Oakland Community Council (OCC) on Sunday rejected a proposal to use $36m in public funds to help finance the project.

However, the City Council has seemingly overruled this decision, giving approval to a deal for no more than $36m to be spent on roads, utilities and other public works around the new, 21,000-capacity stadium.

Speaking to City Council members shortly after the vote yesterday (Monday), Mayor John Cranley said, according to the website: “MLS is the fastest growing sport in the country and the most popular sport in the world.

“We have an opportunity to get in early. I have no fear that, within one year, this will be a historic no brainer. This is not a close call.”

Jeff Berding, president and general manager of FC Cincinnati, also praised the City Council for its decision: “We are confident in our vision of MLS what having a franchise in the first division will do for our region. Our city has a very unique opportunity to position itself in the global economy and use the passion behind soccer to build upon the renaissance Cincinnati is experiencing.”

The project still faces a number of obstacles, with Hamilton County to this week vote on a measure regarding funding for streets and parking near the stadium.

Cincinnati is one of a number of cities bidding for an MLS expansion franchise, with many of the other interested parties also including plans for a new stadium in their proposals. The MLS is expected to make a decision before the end of the year.