NEWPORT, Ky. – While most of the talk about a new FC Cincinnati soccer stadium is centering on Oakley, people in Newport are saying, "Hey, wait a minute — what about us?"
They say they have as much to offer in entertainment, restaurants and lodging as Oakley does.
“We think that we're the right choice,” Southbank Partners President Jack Moreland said.
“We've got a great location over here,” seconded Eric Haas, managing member of Hofbrauhaus.
“Newport, I think, is an up-and-coming city,” said Erin Hunt, Hampton Inn & Suites assistant general manager.
Newport is still in the running, FC Cincinnati President and General Manger Jeff Berding assured Northern Kentuckians on Thursday. The Ovation site next to Newport on the Levee has been one of three under consideration, along with Oakley and the West End.
It looks like Newport might be Plan B for the soccer club if Cincinnati and Hamilton County leaders aren’t willing to subsidize $100 million toward the $250 million cost of a 25,000-seat stadium.
Newport officials said its vacant riverfront site is shovel-ready and would include tax-increment financing, a tax incentive program where when property values increase because of development the property owners only pay the original tax amount.
Moreland pointed out a number of other Newport positives.
“We have walkability. We have Red Bikes. We have the kinds of things that people can go from Point A to Point B without going in their car,” Moreland said.
That includes the Levee and all the restaurants, bars and hotels and riverfront in Newport as well as convenient access to Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium over bridges.
“We have a lot of things going on for us, and we don't have much downside. Beyond that, we're even more friendly probably,” Moreland said.
Businesses like the popular Hofbrauhaus restaurant and Hampton Inn & Suites would love a soccer stadium within walking distance.
“I think it definitely would help us mid-week with mid-week games, but I think it's fun. It provides more activity. It certainly will help the Levee. It certainly will help us, too,” Haas said.
Hunt said the stadium would have a similar impact on Hampton Inn.
“It would definitely be good for business,” Hunt said. “We'll have a lot more rooms that will be occupied during the week in the slow periods."
Corporex owns the Ovation site but Managing Director Tom Banta was out of town and not available for comment.