FC Cincinnati wants $75M; here's what other cities will kick in for new MLS stadiums

Posted at 9:12 AM, Nov 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-15 17:49:19-05

CINCINNATI -- How are other cities helping out soccer teams hoping to score a spot in Major League Soccer?

We examined the 12 cities competing for a bid, and whether taxpayers there will help with the construction of the team’s stadium. The MLS will announce on Dec. 14 which two cities it has chosen to join the league in 2020.

For many teams hoping to make the cut, their bids are effectively dead because team ownership and taxpayers couldn't agree on a deal. Others are privately financing the entirety of their stadium. Meanwhile, some plans use a combination of local tax dollars and private money to pay for a stadium.

Take a look:


Stadium cost: $275 million

What would the public pay? $75 million. The latest FC Cincinnati proposal asks the public to use money from an existing hotel tax to fund the stadium’s surrounding infrastructure.

Team ownership’s contribution: $200 million

Key competitors in MLS bid


Stadium cost: $275 million

What will public pay? This gets tricky. The public will front the $275 million bond for the project. Taxpayers will make an annual debt payment of $13 million for 30 years that will be covered, in part, with new sales tax revenue from the stadium and a $1.75 ticket tax.

Team ownership’s contribution: The team will make a $25 million payment up front to cover stadium costs. The team will also write a $9 million check every year to cover a large chunk of the annual payments on the debt.


Stadium cost: $245 million

Team's contribution: $201 million

What will the public pay for? An estimated $46 million -- some of which has already been spent -- in infrastructure improvements has been made on the site where the stadium will sit. While the team will finance the stadium privately, the 20,000-seat MLS stadium is an anchor to an ambitious $5.3 billion public-private redevelopment plan in downtown Sacramento, including the addition of many as 10,000 residential units and 6.5 million square feet of commercial space.

Others to watch


Stadium cost: No new costs, as the team plans to use the existing stadium, Ford Field, which is home to the NFL's Detroit Lions.

What will public pay? It looks like the public gets off the hook on kicking in any money for this one. The only cost reported with the plan to use Ford Field for an MLS team is a season seat modification, which the ownership is likely to absorb.

Team ownership’s contribution: An existing $500 million stadium that was built through a combination of public and private funds.

Also notable: The team announced its plan to use Ford Field in early November, and MLS owners gave it a lukewarm response.


Stadium cost: To be determined

What would the public pay for? Nothing. The Phoenix Rising team has a shovel-ready site for an MLS stadium at its existing location. Back in March, team ownership told Scripps-owned ABC 15 that they wouldn’t ask for any public money if they land a spot in the MLS. “(It would be) privately financed because we have the right ownership group,” the team’s COO Bobby Dulle said.


Stadium cost: $175 million

Team's contribution: North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik plans to privately finance the entire stadium but is still looking for additional investors.

What will the public pay for? Nothing for the stadium construction. The project includes a mixed-use development totaling $750 million for which Malik has indicated he is seeking public assistance, potentially in the form of a land deal or parking and other infrastructure surrounding the stadium, but the city already has said it will not be providing any incentives or tax breaks.

Also notable: The biggest holdup is that the 13-acre property downtown where Malik wants to build his 22,000-seat stadium is government property, so the project requires state approval. At least 10 government buildings would need to be razed, and the land is estimated to be worth at least $91 million.

San Diego

Stadium cost: $200 million

Team's contribution: The entire $4 billion redevelopment project and stadium will be privately funded. San Diego State University would be kicking in $100 million to use the 32,000-seat facility for football.

What will the public pay for? Nothing. In fact, the city currently loses $12 million a year maintaining the current Qualcomm Stadium, which would be replaced in this project.

Also notable: FS Investors, the firm leading the expansion effort, succeeded in getting a citizens’ initiative put on the ballot in order to approve “SoccerCity,” but the city found it would be more cost-effective and generate a better voter turnout if it went to the general election vote in November 2018, rather than the special election sought this fall. Thus, San Diego’s fate rests on getting one of the last two spots for MLS expansion and hopes that other markets won’t be too far along in their own plans by this time next year.

Tampa/St. Petersburg

Stadium cost: $80 million (to improve Al Lang Stadium)

Team's contribution: $80 million

What will the public pay for? Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards is privately funding the project to renovate Al Lang Stadium from a converted baseball facility into an MLS-ready venue but is still negotiating the lease. Also notable: Voters approved a ballot initiative in May authorizing the St. Petersburg city council to engage in lease negotiations with Edwards to use Al Lang Stadium and thus clear the path for him to make improvements to the venue. However, political leaders don’t want to set terms for the lease until they have assurances Edwards will get an MLS team.

Deals that are likely dead 


Stadium cost: $175 million

What will the public pay? Not a dime, for now. Charlotte’s bid to gain entry into the MLS is dead. After city and county officials couldn’t agree on how much -- up to $143 million -- taxpayers should spend on the project.

Also notable: Local media reported city council elections (sound familiar?) and stiff competition from other cities helped to kill the deal.


Stadium cost: $120 million

What would the public pay for? Roughly $100 million. But plans to construct a new stadium for an MLS team appear to be dead after the Indiana statehouse failed to pass a financing plan.

Team’s proposed contribution: $10 million.

St. Louis

Stadium cost: $155 million

Team's contribution: $95 million

What will the public pay for? The ownership group is seeking $60 million in public money for construction of the stadium.

Also notable: A measure intended to secure $60 million in public financing for a 22,000-seat soccer-specific stadium was narrowly defeated in a municipal election in April, falling short by an estimated 3,000 votes and effectively killing St. Louis’ expansion bid.

San Antonio

Stadium cost: $100 million to expand Toyota Field

Team's contribution: To be determined

What will the public pay for? A bond issue is set to go to Bexar County voters in December to help pay for the majority of the costs to expand the 8,400-seat stadium, which is county and city owned, by 10,000 seats. Bexar County and the city of San Antonio ponied up $18 million to purchase Toyota Field from previous owner Gordon Hartman (Spurs Sports & Entertainment added $3 million) in 2015.

Also notable: The county and city have been trying to figure out how to pay for the stadium expansion but Columbus Crew SC’s potential move to Austin, which is 70 miles away, could end San Antonio's bid.