Board of Education to FCC: Make us whole or no deal

The Cincinnati Board of Education today again told FCC it must pay more toward the district if it wants to build a proposed stadium on CPS land in the West End

click to enlarge Stargel Stadium - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Stargel Stadium

The Cincinnati Board of Education has sent a letter responding to an offer made earlier today by FC Cincinnati for a land swap involving the district's Stargel Stadium in the West End. The gist of the letter: FCC needs to offer more money to the district — though it could have a deferred payment plan — and needs to present a formal proposal the Board can discuss in public meetings.

Should it win a Major League Soccer franchise, FCC wants to build a soccer stadium on the site of the district's stadium and will in exchange rebuild Stargel on nearby land. The team's proposal has seen two sticking points: a community benefits agreement CPS wants to see negotiated with neighborhood groups and the amount of property taxes or payments in lieu of property taxes FCC will pay.

The team made initial offerings of $70,000 a year (what a few property owners of parcels east of Stargel pay now) and another deal that would have paid CPS roughly $4 million over the next 12 years. The district rejected both of those offers.

This morning, FCC sent the Board of Education a letter with what it framed as a final offer: $750,000 a year for 10 years. The team gave the district until 5 p.m. today to respond, citing a pending $1 million real estate deal needed to move forward with a stadium in the West End.

“If we can’t even get the CPS piece done, then it’s probably a real waste of a lot of money, upwards of $1 million on real estate in the area,” FCC President Jeff Berding told radio station WVXU.

The payments on offer are less than the roughly $2 million a year a commercial project like the $250 million stadium would pay under the city's current tax abatement policies, which have been in place since 1999. It's also less than the full tax burden such a stadium would incur, which the district estimates would be $2.8 million a year.

The Board of Education has again declined the team's offer, but did say it would be open to voting on a formal proposal in the coming days.

"In the Board's view, FC Cincinnati should be required to pay an amount of property taxes that is consistent with the 1999 agreement framework — or $2 million annually based on the club's current estimated value of the new stadium," the letter reads.

The letter also calls again for a community benefits agreement with the coalition of community groups that has organized around that issue.

In the missive, the Board of Education calls the team's 5 p.m. deadline today "unreasonable" and has asked the team to submit a more formal proposal detailing payments, the nature of its community benefits agreement with neighborhood groups and details about its promise to build a new Stargel Stadium. 

You can read the full letter here. This story will be updated.

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