MA­JOR LEAGUE SOC­CER WILL DE­LAY

The Bond Buyer - - Front Page - By Nora Colomer

into the New Year a de­ci­sion on whether to add Cincin­nati, Detroit or Sacra­mento as its next ex­pan­sion team. Cincin­nati and Sacra­mento both plan to build soc­cer spe­cific sta­di­ums with a mix of pri­vate and pub­lic funds.

Ma­jor League Soc­cer will de­lay into the New Year a de­ci­sion on whether to add Cincin­nati, Detroit or Sacra­mento as its next ex­pan­sion team.

Cincin­nati and Sacra­mento both plan to build soc­cer spe­cific sta­di­ums with a mix of pri­vate and pub­lic funds.

Detroit would use Ford Field, home of the Na­tional Foot­ball League Detroit Lions, as the home venue for its MLS fran­chise.

“All three sub­mit­ted im­pres­sive bids which the league will take ad­di­tional time to re­view be­fore an­nounc­ing a fi­nal de­ci­sion in the New Year,” MLS said in a state­ment.

Ear­lier this month MLS awarded Nashville, Ten­nessee a fran­chise. Nashville is one of two ex­pan­sion teams the MLS has orig­i­nally an­tic­i­pated an­nounc­ing by the end of 2017.

FC Cincin­nati, which cur­rently plays in the mi­nor-league USL, wants to build a soc­cer spe­cific sta­dium as part of its bid.

The Cincin­nati own­er­ship says it would make a $ 200 mil­lion pri­vate in­vest­ment in sta­dium con­struc­tion but needs pub­lic funds to cover the $70 mil­lion to $ 75 mil­lion in­fra­struc­ture cost for roads, sew­ers and util­i­ties.

Jeff Berd­ing, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s gen­eral man­ager and pres­i­dent, said in Novem­ber that the or­ga­ni­za­tion would user owner eq­uity, team debt and di­rect sta­dium devel­op­ment rev­enues.

In late Novem­ber, City of Cincin­nati and Hamil­ton County of­fi­cials voted to con­trib­ute a com­bined $ 51 mil­lion in pub­lic fi­nanc­ing to sup­port in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments for the soc­cer sta­dium. FC Cincin­nati is pur­su­ing pub­lic dol­lars from the State of Ohio to get the pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture pack­age closer to the $ 70 mil­lion to $ 75 mil­lion it need to sup­port the in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments.

In Detroit, the MLS bid ini­tially led by Tom Gores and Dan Gil­bert was joined by the NFL Detroit Lions’ own­ers, the Ford fam­ily, in late Oc­to­ber.

No pub­lic funds would be used for any ad­just­ments that have to be made to add the soc­cer team’s home games at Ford Field, ac­cord­ing to pub­lished re­ports.

Gores and Gil­bert had pre­vi­ously touted a soc­cer- spe­cific sta­dium at the Gra­tiot Av­enue jail site in down­town Detroit. That plan called for county bond fi­nanc­ing, in­clud­ing un­spent bond pro­ceeds from the un­fin­ished Gra­tiot jail at an ap­prox­i­mate cost of $ 520.3 mil­lion.

Sacra­mento Repub­lic FC own­ers have said they in­tend to pri­vately fi­nance a $ 226 mil­lion soc­cer sta­dium.

How­ever $46 mil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments that have been com­pleted around the sta­dium site, which are in­cluded in the project’s $ 226 mil­lion price tag, have been cred­ited to pub­lic agencies.

Nashville plans to use $ 225 mil­lion in bonds to build a new sta­dium at The Fair­ground Nashville. Un­der the sta­dium plan, the own­er­ship group would pay $ 25 mil­lion up front and $ 9 mil­lion a year over 30 years to help re­tire the city’s an­nual $ 13 mil­lion debt for the $ 225 mil­lion bond is­suance.

Sales tax rev­enue gen­er­ated by the sta­dium, as well as a $ 1.75 ticket tax that would in­crease over time, is de­signed to cover the re­main­ing $ 4 mil­lion.

The city would be on the hook to pay the dif­fer­ence if pro­jec­tions fall short. q

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