MILFORD, Ohio -- Clermont County commissioners voted Wednesday to approve a tax increase to help construct a “world-class” FC Cincinnati training facility in Milford.
Commissioners approved the 1 percent lodging tax increase in a vote of 2-1. Officials said they expect to get $2 back for every $1 they spend.
"We looked at the entire deal, I looked at the incentives and what the county was going to receive back, and I felt like it was a good deal for the county and our residents," said Commissioner Ed Humphrey, who voted in favor of the increase.
Commissioner David Painter voted against the increase.
"I believe that the tax incentive in the liability to the taxpayers of Clermont County did not represent a good business deal for Clermont County and the 205,000 residents of Clermont County as a whole," he said.
The $30 million project will replace the current Expressway Park softball complex.
Rumors of the project blossomed back in June when the owners of Expressway Park announced they’d be selling the property and had to vacate by July 9.
"We're appreciative of the leadership from the Clermont County Commissioners for the FC Cincinnati Training Center in Milford," FC Cincinnati GM Jeff Berding said. "We look forward to becoming a productive community partner and bringing the club's soccer operations to Clermont County early next year."
According to Berding, plans for the site include a two-story facility with a team building, a youth academy, grandstands, locker rooms and a turf field.
The club chose Clermont County for the facility, Berding said, because of the abundance of flat, easily accessible land.
The club entered into an agreement with the city of Milford, Clermont County, Clermont County Port Authority and Clermont County Ohio Convention and Visitors Bureau for the project, which is slated to include three soccer fields for the team and future FC Cincinnati Academy.
"Sports is a huge market for us," Visitors Bureau president Jeff Blom previously told WCPO. "It’s the biggest driver of hotel room nights for leisure travel."
The training complex is expected to be fully operational by July 2019, and all work at the site should be finished by the end of that year.
According to the club’s announcement, the Clermont County site will serve as the base for FC Cincinnati’s soccer operations.
The facility is expected to host between six and 20 soccer-related events each year.
Expressway Park, located near Milford Parkway and Lila Avenue, currently has five regulation diamonds, batting cages, a basketball court and pro shop. It's been open for decades.
Steve Broughton, the owner of nearby DNA Sports Center, said more soccer in the area could be a positive force.
"For us, it works well because the nice part about soccer is they start at 4 and 5 years old and they can play all the way through high school, females and males," he said.
The Clermont County Port Authority is expected to vote on its end of the deal at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at a regularly scheduled meeting.
This story contains previous reporting from WCPO's Julie O'Neill.