CINCINNATI — Finally, construction on the FC Cincinnati stadium can proceed now that City Council cast its decisive vote Thursday on the year-long debate over putting a 25,000-seat Major League Soccer venue in the West End.
City Council's 7-0 vote approved the boundaries of the stadium campus and removed the last barrier for construction, although final design details must still be approved by the city planning commission.
The zoning vote and movement on two other West End issues came just in time to allow FC Cincinnati to meet its construction schedule for a planned opening in March 2021.
Earlier in the day, Cincinnati Ballet announced it and the soccer club had made peace in their dispute over parking, noise and other issues, with FC Cincinnati putting $1 million in escrow for the ballet – half to resolve noise problems that may be determined by a future study and the other half to help the ballet move if it so chooses.
Council also tied up one important loose end, awarding $75,000 to Monica Williams so she can reopen her Just Cookin' catering business after the soccer club bought the West End property she was renting. That increased the payout to Williams to $250,000, since FC Cincinnati gave her $175,000.
FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding issued this statement:
"We thank the City Council for their unanimous approval today of our West End Stadium Concept PD for our privately funded $250+ million stadium.
"We are proud of our support for Music Hall, the Cincinnati Ballet and Just Cookin'. We will continue to work with the City Administration, which has done terrific work to date, as we get underway with construction.
"We're eager to get to back on the site, as are local contractors, subcontractors and workers. We expect to meet Major League Soccer's deadlines and open the stadium on time for the 2021 season."
The Ballet had protested the soccer club's plans to take over land the Ballet has been leasing for parking for its offices, training facility and youth academy. The Ballet's statement read:
"The Cincinnati Ballet has signed a Good Neighbor Agreement with FC Cincinnati. This Good Neighbor Agreement protects the integrity of Cincinnati Ballet for the next seventeen years should we remain at our current location on the corner of Central Parkway, as the Agreement addresses many of our issues relating to parking, access, noise, operations, and others.
"Should the Ballet ultimately decide to relocate, this Agreement helps us to work in good faith with the leadership of FC Cincinnati over the coming weeks to determine a mutually beneficial solution, prior to the approval of FC Cincinnati’s final development plan. There is certainly more work to be done, but we are in a better place today than we were a week ago.
"We sincerely appreciate the members of Cincinnati City Council who allowed us additional time to ensure we reached this Agreement collectively."