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Cincinnati puts best foot forward for final MLS bid

Cincinnati puts best foot forward for final MLS bid

It is best foot forward time Wednesday for Cincinnati's soccer bid.

The Queen City is one of four finalist cities vying for two Major League Soccer expansion franchise spots.


This is not decision day, it is show-us-what-you-got day. The top executives at FC Cincinnati have their game faces on.

Although last on the presentation schedule, FCC is hoping to be first when the expansion decision is made or at least second.

And while President and GM Jeff Berding is in New York with majority FCC owner Carl Lindner III, supporters back here at home are on pins and needles.

We saw signs of that in Kevin Wallace Wednesday. His day job is manager at the American Sign Museum in Camp Washington.

As a 24/7 soccer enthusiast and part of the Build It Here group, he can't stop thinking about FCC's chances.

He figures Sacramento is in, Detroit is out and it'll come down to Cincinnati or Nashville, Tennessee.

"They don't have a team," Wallace noted. "They've never proven any real soccer support in the past and the stadium they're going to build is in the middle of a fairgrounds, which is what Columbus did, and Columbus is now looking at relocation because their stadium site is awful."

The four finalists have put their best in front of Major League Soccer.

Nashville and Sacramento made their respective pitches in the morning, then Detroit and Cincinnati made theirs in the afternoon.

Berding released a statement after the pitch.

"Over the course of two hours, we presented Cincinnati as an asset to the growth of MLS," he said.

Berding mentioned the ownership group, the city's strategic regional positioning, the heat of FCC's franchise and several other factors as key points in the presentation.

He ended with "We feel our vision of soccer is in line with what is occurring in Major League Soccer today and I would like to end by thanking our fans. Their support and passion for FC Cincinnati has helped us be in a position to be a strong city in this competition."

Read the full statement here

MLS has remained poker-faced.

The board will gather on Dec. 14 to compare and contrast and presumably choose, though no announcement is expected on that day.

At the FCC gift shop Wednesday afternoon, Jonathan Jones was looking for holiday gifts and trying to keep track of how everything was going in New York. He wasn't a diehard fan until someone invited him to an FCC game.

He's now among the 13,000 who have bought season tickets for 2018 at Nippert Stadium on the UC campus.

"If I had my druthers we would just stay there," Jones admitted. "But, you know, I know the MLS wants us to have a bigger stadium or a different type of stadium."

FCC explained its $350 million self-funding stadium plan Wednesday, the city-county financial package for access roads, infrastructure and a parking garage as well as the growing base of support.

Wallace is on a three-year FCC soccer high.

"I was telling people, you know, don't get excited about this team until 5,000 people show up for one game", Wallace explained. "That's when we know we might have something. Fourteen thousand people show up for the first game. So, it just blew me away on what we could do."

Wallace praised FCC for breaking records ever since.

He would be deeply disappointed if Cincinnati is left out.

"Being in MLS ensures the best possible growth for our club and really for our city in that sense," Wallace said.

He's on the edge of his seat, awaiting word.

Berding sent a text that read, "Keep Calm and Just Win."