Hartman: Why the FC Cincinnati-MLS saga makes no sense

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Hartman: Why the FC Cincinnati-MLS saga makes no sense

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Nick Graham
FC Cincinnati lost to New York Red Bulls 3-2 in overtime of their 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal game Tuesday, Aug. 15 at Nippert Stadium on the University of Cincinnati Campus in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Wednesday was another adventure in the comedy/drama that is the 2017 Cincinnati Bengals, but I admit to being a little distracted when I was at Paul Brown Stadium. 

I also couldn’t help but keep coming back to one question: Why in the world would anyone want to do anything to accommodate Major League Soccer? 

Advocating for a penny to be spent to bring that league to southwest Ohio requires some very powerful blinders, and your field of vision doesn’t even have to extend beyond the state. 

I have no feelings for the Columbus Crew, but it’s obvious their owner is screwing over central Ohio, and MLS is completely complicit. 

Commissioner Don Garber, the same guy who has allowed Cincinnati and however many other cities to shower him with love on his expansion tour, hasn’t even bothered hiding his support for Anthony Precourt’s attempts to move the team to Austin. 

You also don’t have to know much about soccer to know Columbus is probably the last city that league should ever want to mess with. 

Let’s see, an original team in a large and growing market getting treated like a backwater burg with a team playing in front of an empty stadium built for badminton? 

Yeah, I can see why southwest Ohio people are in a hurry to get some of that. 

Even putting aside the drama in central Ohio, the league’s demands for Cincinnati are completely unreasonable. If you can’t see that you’re just blinded by love (or something else). 

Face facts: Cincinnati doesn’t need another stadium. Neither the city nor the county should spend a penny on one, even if it’s “just infrastructure." Private citizens, such as the ones from the same family that spent years misdirecting the Reds, are free to spend their money however they want, but it would still be a waste nonetheless. 

Just because the MLS, a league I have always gotten the impression is not even respected by most soccer fans, wants something doesn’t make it reasonable, so bravo to the county for giving them the runaround. 

FC Cincinnati seems to have really built something without the help of MLS. They’ll be fine without it — perhaps better off in the long run considering the league’s questionable business practices and the uncertain time ahead for sports television revenue. 

The scenes at Nippert Stadium, an objectively great sports venue in which millions have recently been invested, have been regularly plastered all over the internet for two years, a point of pride for many that has seemingly won over even some hardened soccer haters. 

FC Cincinnati lost to New York Red Bulls 3-2 in overtime of their 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal game Tuesday, Aug. 15 at Nippert Stadium on the University of Cincinnati Campus in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF Contributing Writer

And yet that’s not good enough all of a sudden? 

Get real. 

Then again, take a second look north if you must to really get the picture. 

If the league is going to treat Columbus — a city that already has a soccer-specific stadium that is simple but yet somehow good enough for the most important matches played in this country — the way it is now, what makes you think you won’t get your turn down the line? 

I’ll give you two choices: naivety or stupidity. Yes, you can choose both. 

Still not convinced? OK, fine. 

It’s your land and your money. Spend it how you want. 

If upgrading to the MLS is important to get a couple of nationally televised games almost nobody watches, go ahead. 

But do it at your price, not theirs. 

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