Port Authority approves bonds to support FC Cincinnati complex in Milford

BATAVIA, Ohio (Sept. 5, 2018) – The Clermont County Port Authority today approved issuing $30 million in lease revenue bonds to finance the cost of building a training facility and youth academy for FC Cincinnati, Cincinnati’s professional soccer league.

The vote was 4-1. Port Authority Vice Chairman Loretta Rokey, Administrator, Pierce Township; Fiscal Officer Sam DeBonis, Assistant Vice President, Park National Bank, and members Greg DeFisher, President & CEO, Freeman Schwabe Machinery, and Rex Parsons, Administrator, Batavia Township; voted in favor. Member Greg Simpson, Principal, Key Transportation Inc., voted against the resolution.

Under the agreement, the Port Authority will lease the land — 24 acres on U.S. 50 in the City of Milford near Interstate 275 – and facilities to be built to FC Cincinnati. The bonds will be privately purchased by FC Cincinnati. The construction materials will be exempted from sales tax, estimated to be $1 million.

Because the Port Authority is tax exempt, FC Cincinnati will not have to pay property taxes. It has negotiated annual payments with the Milford School District to help compensate for that. The Port Authority will receive a one-time fee of $105,000 and an annual average fee of $9,000, most of which will go to support various county levies.

“The structure of the lease answers all of the questions related to what the economic impact will actually be and if it is worth the level of incentives being provided,” said Andy Kuchta, Executive Director and Secretary of the Port Authority. “The Port Authority will have the choice to not renew the lease every 360 days for any reason. This is not a 20-year deal but a 360-day deal, full stop.

“Within the next 3-5 years there will be a comprehensive evaluation of the actual economic impacts and benefits once the facility has been constructed and operational for a period of time,” Kuchta continued. “If that evaluation determines the economic impacts have not materialized, the Port Authority will be able to substantially renegotiate the terms of these agreements or simply not renew them and return the property to a fully taxable status.”

Under the agreement, FC Cincinnati will indemnify the Port Authority from any cost, liability, claim, lawsuit or loss related to the project.

On Aug. 22, Clermont County Commissioners approved an increase in the lodging tax in the county, from 6% to 7%. The revenue generated by the increase in the tax, approximately $223,000 a year, will also be used to help support the project.

The $30 million soccer complex will include a 30,000-square-foot training facility and a 6,500-square-foot youth academy. FC Cincinnati hopes to complete the training facility by next summer.

The Port Authority decision represents the last step before the project can begin. FC Cincinnati also entered into agreements with the City of Milford and the Clermont County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

A study by Sports Facilities Advisory, a sports management consulting group based in Clearwater, Fla., estimated that the FC complex would generate almost 65,000 visitor days by out-of-town visitors and result in almost $7 million in direct spending annually.

FC Cincinnati, whose owners were recently granted expansion status by Major League Soccer, will also build an estimated $200 million stadium in the West End of Cincinnati, which is expected to be open for the 2021 season. The team currently plays at Nippert Stadium at the University of Cincinnati.