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Monday, November 27, 2017

NKY Chamber: FC Cincinnati is Welcome in NKY

Along with thousands throughout the region, I am an FC Cincinnati soccer fan.

The atmosphere they’ve created has been electrifying.

Fans from all over the Greater Cincinnati region come to watch them play. That includes Northern Kentucky.

When businesses are considering Northern Kentucky, we include FC Cincinnati in our top highlights as a major selling point.

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Businesses which trade internationally and/or have employees that have grown up loving soccer, are excited to have a professional team within a 15-minute drive.  By the way, that’s roughly how long it takes to drive from my house in Fort Thomas to Oakley.

If FC Cincinnati chooses Oakley as their new stadium location, you better believe that Northern Kentuckians will be there to root them on.  We are part of Greater Cincinnati, and they are our team too.

That said, of course, we’d love them to be in Newport.

Newport is a great option, not just for Northern Kentucky, but for Greater Cincinnati.

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As a member of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center Board, I can tell you that conventions select regions for a variety of reasons, including professional sports.  To have several major sporting facilities, within walking distance, is an attraction few cities can offer.

Because of recent transportation investments in Newport, the infrastructure in place would make it an ideal fit.  The state is finishing a new four-lane highway where the stadium would be located.

Those living in the urban core, on both sides of the river, would benefit from additional amenities a new stadium would bring.

From a tourism perspective, it would open doors.

Visitors don’t see a river or a different state as a divide, they only see an abundance of experiences to enjoy.

People coming into our region could walk to a Broadway show, stroll through a world class park, hop over to one of the top aquariums in the country, and attend a professional soccer game, all without getting into a vehicle.

Those tourists would be staying at our hotels, eating at our restaurants, and shopping in our stores. By “our”, I mean Greater Cincinnati, not just Northern Kentucky.  Both sides of the river would benefit.

From an economic development perspective, professional soccer helps us bridge and accentuate an international presence we don’t often showcase here.  The Newport site is just down the street from the Hofbrauhaus.  #JustSayin

From my point of view, Oakley and Newport are really two different sites.  The Newport site is more urban, and the Oakley site is more suburban.   Both could work.

I’m encouraged that officials and developers on both sides of the river are working hard to be sure that we make the strongest possible presentation to Major League Soccer (MLS), and have the entire region in mind.  Instead of taking a competing approach, everyone is trying to provide the best options for FC Cincinnati, this regional gem.

When it comes down to it, FC Cincinnati will make the best possible business decision.

Regardless of the chosen site, I think it is important that MLS hear us when we say, “Greater Cincinnati wants you here!”  The Northern Kentucky side of Greater Cincinnati would love to have you, if folks in Ohio are unable to pull together the right offering.

Keep in mind, the Hofbrauhaus and the Aquarium originally pursued locations on the Ohio side of the river, and both ultimately landed in Newport.   Things turned out pretty well for those two regional attractions.

At the end of the day, I’m an FC Cincinnati fan, and I want them to succeed.  As long as they land somewhere in Greater Cincinnati, we all win.

By Brent Cooper, Fort Thomas resident and president and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.


  1. Looks like a gigantic air mattress.

  2. I for one hope FC Cincinnati stays on the Ohio side of the river. This is the third "Soccer is the Next Big Thing" wave I have lived through. I grew up in Northern New Jersey in the 1970's and remember the first soccer wave with Pele and the NY Cosmos. The much-hyped team and league played in Giants Stadium, so luckily there was no giant bill to pay after the team and sport faded away. Then there was the second wave after the US Women's Team won the '99 World Cup. The "Pro Soccer is the Next Big Thing" movement went nowhere fast. Now, this minor league team that plays a handful of game a year is being feted as if the LA Lakers were thinking about relocating to the area.

    Building a sport-specific stadium and garage and everything subsidized that goes with it would be a colossal mistake. A dozen games will not bring some economic boom to Campbell County. A parking garage will not be used, except on gameday - when have you ever found the Levee garage completely full and had to go elsewhere? Outside of hand-picked government tax-subsidized businesses, there will not be blocks of new restaurants surrounding a stadium that will stand empty more than 340 days of the year. And when this "Pro-Soccer is the Next Big Thing" wave crests, Campbell County will be left holding the bag while the FC people silently move on to jai-alai or curling or whatever is the hip sport of the moment. And the final insult will be that all of the discarded t-shirts and faded bumper stickers will not even bear the name of the city and state that sacrificed to host them, but instead will read "Cincinnati."

    I am not opposed to professional sports coming to Northern Kentucky. As a graphic designer, I worked on the design of Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore in 1991-92. I saw first-hand how a stadium in an urban environment completely revitalized not only a 15 square block area, but how it could turn a down-trodden and grim city into a vacation spot almost overnight. However, that project was planned correctly and built in the perfect urban area that allowed independent economic growth in all directions radiating from the ball park. And, most importantly, it was built for a beloved sport that has 81 home games, not a dozen.

    If the area adjacent to the Levee could support new retail growth, let it happen naturally, like any other self-sustainable and successful business area. I like what is happening in the area around Monmouth and York Streets in Newport. It seems as if every week there is a new shop or restaurant that opens, and it is being done naturally, not pushed through artificially like what would happen if a soccer stadium is plopped on the banks of the river. That would mean nutty tax breaks and bonus packages handed out to jump start select businesses. Look what has happened to the area around Cincinnati's baseball and football stadium - when the tax breaks expire the restaurants close up, taking their stratospheric-priced food with them, only to be replaced by some other fly-by-night restaurant that will do the same when the free stuff runs out.

    I made Fort Thomas and Kentucky my home because I love the area and the kind and generous people that live here. I also love the common sense that prevails most of the time and saves the state from silly pitfalls, like the streetcar, that Cincinnati so often falls prey to.

    I hope FC Cincinnati does well. Maybe this will be the wave that never ebbs. But building a stadium and garage that will stay empty for most of the time would just be a waste of money and prime real estate.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hi Gary. Comments directly on the site are sporadically checked as most of the conversation happens on our social channels. Yours (and everyones) comments are always welcomed, no matter the "slant."