Cincinnati Soccer Team Announces Taxpayer-Subsidized Stadium Plan

Published July 10, 2018

FC Cincinnati, a privately owned soccer team located in Cincinnati, Ohio, announced plans for a new stadium to be financed by a mixture of private and taxpayer money.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber formally invited FC Cincinnati, currently a minor-league team, to join the league on May 29.

At a June 29 press conference, team owner Carl Lindner III unveiled the team’s plans to begin construction of a stadium costing more than $200 million.

The facility will be located in Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood and will receive about $33.9 million in city taxpayer money for site preparation, utility work, and parking construction, $17 million of which will be borrowed against projected revenue from the city’s hotel tax.

Construction of the stadium is expected to be completed by 2021.

Expects No Net Benefits

Greg Lawson, a research fellow with the Buckeye Institute and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, says the new stadium is unlikely to promote economic growth in Cincinnati.

“How much is that really going to boost the local economy?” Lawson said. “There may be some impact, but it’s probably very small. They don’t have a benefit when you factor in the overarching cost.”

Lawson says sports stadium subsidies are a bad bet for taxpayers.

“If the team does well for a few years, maybe it’s great,” Lawson said. “Then, if something happens or they hit hard times, people stop showing up, but you’ve still got to pay off the bond that you used to do this. You’re saddled with costs that are socialized onto the taxpayer.”

Says Favorable Evidence Lacking

Marc Poitras, a professor of economics at the University of Dayton, says there is little evidence sports stadium subsidies increase the general prosperity of a city or town.

“There is no convincing economic evidence in favor of stadium subsidies,” Poitras said. “Almost all studies show relatively little economic spillover benefits in terms of employment and economic activity. In every case, there’s almost certainly a better economic use for the money, such as cutting taxes or spending the money on crumbling infrastructure.”