Raise your hand if you ever believed for a second that Cincinnati FC really wanted to build a football stadium in the narrow neighborhoods of Oakley.
OK, now raise your hand if you believe the fairy tale of building a Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium in the middle of Newport. Kentucky FC, anyone?
One more question: Did you ever believe that the General Manager of FC Cincinnati, Jeff Berding, a political strategist if there ever was one, and the major owner, Carl Lindner III, weren’t getting exactly what they were getting from this long and agonizing one Wanted process? that ended late Tuesday? Both men got their wish when MLS awarded Cincinnati FC a franchise to participate in a brand new 21,000-seat football stadium in the West End of Cincinnati.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should return to School and Political Theory 101 exam.
This was predetermined from day one.
And according to David Niven, assistant professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati, it was a masterful piece of political maneuver by Berding.
“This was the triumph of cat ownership,” said Niven. “(Berding) has to deal with the Cincinnati township, school board, county, and city council.
“There were so many veto points and Berding was able to overcome them all,” said Niven.
Oakley was just a breeze from Cincinnati FC. Newport, a diversion aimed at getting the often slow moving machines in Cincinnati City Hall into motion.
One question Cincinnatians want to consider, whether or not they are overjoyed that Cincinnati FC will join the MLS, is what role the Cincinnati City Council elections last fall in the success of Cincinnati FC the landing of the West End site.
Jeff Pastor was a completely unknown teacher in a charter school when he was approved by the Republican Party as one of their three city council candidates.
Nobody – not even his own party – gave him a great opportunity. But suddenly, during the campaign, he started listing his job as managing director of the Epilepsy Foundation of former Duro Bag owner Charlie Shor.
Shor is a very rich man. This became evident when a pastor appeared in African American churches and handed out five-digit checks to ministers, usually in front of the congregation. This is not normal behavior during a city council campaign. We have been on city council campaigns since 1983 and have never seen anything like it.
And in the end, Pastor won the ninth and final seat on the city council, voting out Democrat Michelle Dillingham by a scant 223 votes.
Did all of these checks flying around buy Pastor enough votes to win? (These controls are now also checked.)
If so, it made a big difference in FC Cincinnati’s plan to turn what is now Stargel Stadium at Taft IT High School into a brand new football stadium.
Cincinnati FC needed the city council to approve $ 35 million spending on infrastructure improvements in and around the West End locations.
In the end it went 5: 4, with Pastor voting for it. Dillingham has made it clear that she would have voted against.
Berding, a former Cincinnati councilor, had yet to finalize a “welfare agreement” with stakeholders in the West End – an agreement the city council would like to sign.
The council signed the agreement 7-0. It came after Cincinnati FC, the Port of Greater Cincinnati, six members of the West End Community Council and their lawyer met for nine hours to work behind closed doors on the deal. The council members sat around and twisted their thumbs.
Here’s what they came up with:
- The port will commission a residential study in the West End with Cincinnati FC paying up to $ 100,000 in costs.
- Cincinnati FC will create and support a West End Youth Soccer program with an annual commitment of $ 100,000.
- Cincinnati FC will support the port’s efforts to stabilize and revitalize the Regal Theater on Linn Street.
- Cincinnati FC will ask the general contractor to hold two job fairs in the West End – one for stadium construction and another post-construction.
- The community will receive input on the design elements of the soccer stadium and the new Stargel Stadium, which is being built nearby for the Cincinnati Public Schools.
- There will be a 17-member community coalition that will help implement the social benefits agreement. The last piece could be very important – one of the criticisms of the welfare agreement is that it may not be enforceable.
The deal that was made was politics in its most basic form – two sides sat across from each other at a table and stayed there until a deal was made.
Congress and the White House could learn something from this.
Read more here.