Sunday, April 14, 2002
Soccer team gets new home
Riverhawks want to build on fairgrounds
By Dan Klepal, email@example.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati's professional soccer team will move its home games this year to the Hamilton County fairgrounds, where it hopes to build a stadium and practice fields that would be shared with the community.
The Cincinnati Riverhawks have played near Paramount's Kings Island since the team's inception in 1997.
Now the team has a 10-year lease, expected to be approved by county commissioners in the next two weeks, to play its home games at the fairgrounds in Carthage.
Nick Ranieri, Riverhawks coach and owner, said the fairgrounds are perfect for his team.
Until now, the Riverhawks always played too far away from Northern Kentucky and downtown, Mr. Ranieri said. We're a Cincinnati team, and we need to be as close as we can to everybody.
But the fairgrounds would be an even better home for the soccer team with about $1.8 million in improvements. The Riverhawks have a plan to make that happen, but it is less clear if a majority on the commission will go along with it.
The team has submitted a proposal to build a new 7,000-seat stadium and four adjoining practice fields capable of handling youth soccer tournaments, high school practices and games, and soccer camps.
In the proposal, Hamilton County taxpayers would loan the team the money, to be repaid through its monthly rent.
Commissioner Todd Portune said it's a wonderful idea the team would pay for improvements that would benefit the entire community. Plus, soccer tournaments are big business and would fill up hotel rooms and restaurants all over the county, he said.
As opposed to some professional sports teams in town, the Riverhawks are willing to pay their own way, Mr. Portune said. They are willing to invest their money to build a real community asset.
Commissioner Tom Neyer said he has to know more about the financial arrangement before voting on any sort of loan.
I think the idea is certainly interesting enough to look at, Mr. Neyer said. I'd like to accommodate them, but I need to understand the financial details and the impact on the rest of the fairgrounds before moving forward.
I don't know the financial strength (of the team) nor the details of the facility, he said. But there's no question that soccer is a great thing for this community. So let's see if we can find a way to make it work.
Mr. Ranieri said an improved facility would be a community asset capable of handling sporting events, practice and antique shows.
Soccer is a life for us, Mr. Ranieri said. Having a stadium of the (size) we want to create, with four professional fields outside the stadium, will put us in position to create a youth program that does not exist in Cincinnati.
Commissioners have to approve the lease because the land was deeded to the county in 1869 by the Agriculture Society. The deed states that the Agricultural Society can continue to use the land so long as they hold a county fair on the property every year.
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