Citizen group calls upon MLS to accept Nippert Stadium instead of forcing new taxpayer-funded venue

Posted at 9:33 AM, Aug 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 19:49:38-04

CINCINNATI -- A local citizens' group is pressing Major League Soccer officials to accept Nippert Stadium as FC Cincinnati's home should they join MLS, saying there's no need to construct a dedicated soccer stadium at taxpayer expense.

"No More Stadium Taxes" opposes any additional stadium taxes, arena taxes or sports subsidies and said "large numbers of FC Cincinnati fans have already concluded that Nippert Stadium is a high-quality venue for an MLS team."

“MLS should welcome successful venues like Nippert that attract far more fans than their own soccer-specific stadiums,” said Matt Wahlert, No More Stadium Taxes board member and North College Hill councilman. “While MLS has full control over their admission standards, they have no control over Hamilton County tax dollars. Hamilton County has much bigger needs than subsidizing a new soccer stadium for billionaires, especially when we already have at least one fantastic soccer stadium.”

RELATED: Why not Nippert? FC Cincinnati GM calls UC football stadium an 'implausible' option for MLS
MORE: Hamilton County Commission president Todd Portune says he's working to keep team at Nippert

Since the club averages about 20,000 fans playing in the United Soccer League, they’re anticipating a bump in attendance should they enter MLS that would justify a 25,000-seat facility. MLS figures show that FC Cincinnati's average attendance places them at the middle of the pack of the MLS' 22 teams.

The soccer club's general manager and CEO, Jeff Berding, has called Nippert an "implausible" option as an MLS stadium. He insisted in July they would continue pursuing construction of a new stadium with a goal of $100 million in public, taxpayer funds in one of three places: Cincinnati’s Oakley or West End neighborhoods or on Newport, Kentucky's riverfront. 

"It's not that we're obtuse. We understand that there are plenty of our fans and supporters who are out there who want this to work," Berding said. "But to the best of our judgment, the ability to turn Nippert into a soccer-specific stadium is implausible due to some insurmountable challenges."

Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune calls FC Cincinnati's complaints about Nippert Stadium "red herrings," and told WCPO he's pursuing a deal that would keep the team at the University of Cincinnati – MLS requirements be damned.

No More Stadium Taxes said using Nippert Stadium would be a "quadruple victory" for MLS, FC Cincinnati, the University of Cincinnati and for Hamilton County taxpayers.

"However, if MLS and FCC believe they need their own stadium, then they need to pay for it with their own money," the group wrote in a statement to press.