West End or Oakley? Either site works. But I think we now know the reason why Major League Soccer hasn't signed off on Cincinnati for an expansion franchise.
Sure, MLS loves the enthusiasm we have here for soccer. Yep, it likes doing business with one of the richest men in America. And FCC has been loading up on new and better players than it's had in its first two seasons.
As was the case in November, every box has been checked in FCC's quest for an expansion franchise in Major League Soccer... except that pesky stadium thing.
The funding appears to be in place. The infrastructure around the stadium appears to be set. Except... where is it going?
And have Carl Lindner and the owners actually closed on a piece of property? We know there's an option to buy a piece of land, fit for a stadium. We knew that back in November. There is a shovel-ready site in Newport. We knew that last summer, too. So why now, all of a sudden, is Cincinnati's West End back in play?
It leads me to one conclusion: The reason for the expansion stall is that MLS wants a team based in Cincinnati (really based in Cincinnati) or someplace where the Cincinnati skyline is actually visible.
Jeff Berding, the local face of MLS expansion, maintains the West End has always been in play. It just hasn't got this kind of "play" until now. Berding said on 700 WLW Wednesday that he hasn't signed an option to purchase land at any site, nor, to his knowledge, has anyone else in the FCC ownership group.
But considering how MLS has insisted that any expansion franchise has to have a soccer-specific stadium, wouldn't you think it would like to know exactly where the franchise plans on building the stadium before it awards a team? Or, as someone close to the team told me, maybe MLS is really just "agnostic" when it comes to the local details.
Berding continues to say he thinks we'll know in February, whether or not Cincinnati gets a team. He'll have to wait a bit before he knows if the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority will do business with him. It doesn't meet until next Tuesday.
And even then, impact studies will have to be done on things like traffic and soil. Those things take a lot of time. Maybe MLS doesn't really care about where a stadium is built, just so long as one is built. Maybe all three stadium sites, including Newport, remain in play. Maybe MLS is simply giving FCC time to get its land act together.
That's a lot of maybes. But here's a certainty -- the last thing MLS wants is to award a franchise here and not have a soccer-only stadium built.
Imagine an MLS team playing at Nippert, drawing 20,000 a game and no construction starting on a new facility. Good luck getting a stadium built then. My guess is, MLS wants to see a deed to a land purchase and a signed agreement with a major construction company. But it's only a guess.
We'll get back to you when there's something concrete... as in pouring concrete.
Now then, some major ramblings -- randomly of course -- on this random Thursday...
Bill Belichick didn't like the question, but there's no denying the Patriots have a problem in Super Bowls, immediately after the National Anthem...
And the Cleveland Cavaliers simply have a problem. I don't know of anyone who doesn't think Lebron James is one of the best players in the game today. I also don't know anyone who thinks the Cavaliers look like an NBA finalist again this season...
Diamond has canceled the remaining dates on his current tour. At the Grammy's, this Sunday, Diamond will receive a lifetime achievement award. He should have gotten that a long time ago.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Diamond in 2011. This is a man who charted 10 No. 1 singles in his career. He's also produced six live albums to complement his 33 studio albums.
In addition, Diamond also has written a lot of pop/rock hits for other artists. He wrote "I'm a Believer" which the Monkees turned into a No. 1 hit.
And in Boston, Diamond is revered, as his hit "Sweet Caroline" is played in the eighth inning of every Red Sox game at Fenway Park. It was picked, randomly, by a woman who was in charge of the music played at Fenway back in 1998. In 2002, it became a Fenway tradition.
Diamond says he's not retiring. He's just ending his touring. He says he'll continue to write music and maybe do some recording. What he's given us is hardly hard rock. But he is a master lyricist, with songs delivering poignant messages about love and life.
Neil Diamond, born 77 years ago yesterday, in Brooklyn, New York.