FC Cincinnati set to make final expansion pitch to MLS

Published: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 @ 2:44 PM


            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
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

FC Cincinnati brass will be making its final pitch to Major League Soccer on Wednesday before the league’s board of governors decide on which two teams to bring on for the next round of expansion.

Last week MLS announced Cincinnati as one of the four finalists to emerge from a group of 12 applicants who submitted bids in January.

The league’s 25th and 26th teams are expected to be announced in the days following a Dec. 14 board meeting with plans for them to join in 2020. Two more expansion spots remain after this round and will be determined at a later time, as the league plans to grow to 28 teams.

»RELATED: FC Cincinnati will finance own stadium

Here are five things we know about FC Cincinnati’s bid as club executives prepare to meet with MLS in New York City:

1. Ownership group is a plus

FCC’s ownership group is one MLS would be glad to have, led by Carl Lindner III, the billionaire American Financial Group co-CEO whose family is among the richest in America. Eight other investors also joined Lindner in his FC Cincinnati venture, including George Joseph of Joseph Automotive Group, Jack Wyant of Blue Chip Venture Co. and Scott Farmer of Mason’s Cintas Corp.

»RELATED: FC Cincinnati, Liberty Center announce partnership

2. Market stronger than it seems

The city ranks last among the 12 expansion cities for television market, checking in at 36th overall, but the club already has established a proven audience.

This past season FCC averaged about 22,000 fans in the second-division United Soccer League, which averages less than 4,000 as a whole, and club president and general manager Jeff Berding told 700 WLW that 15,000 season tickets have been secured for 2018. Three MLS teams this season averaged less than 16,000 fans a game.

FC Cincinnati reached a deal to have all of its games broadcast this past season and the club also attracts fans from Dayton.

3. Sponsorship opportunities are plentiful

Cincinnati is home to nine Fortune 500 companies, which is more per capita than New York City and Los Angeles and provides for plenty of sponsorship opportunities. Forbes ranked it No. 15 on its 2016 list of top cities for young professionals, so it is a “city on the rise,” as Berding often suggests.

4. Oakley site will be pitched

When FC Cincinnati submitted its original application in January, the club proposed a soccer-specific stadium in Newport, Ky. because that was the only site it was able to secure on short notice after MLS set its expansion requirements and application deadline just six weeks ahead of time.

»RELATED: FC Cincinnati unveils design plans for proposed stadium

Until then, FC Cincinnati had hoped to work things out to stay at Nippert Stadium, but MLS made it clear a soccer-specific stadium was a priority. Hoping to keep the team in Cincinnati, rather than across the Ohio River, the club eventually established Oakley as its preferred stadium site with another possible option in the West End/Over-the-Rhine. Funding plans finally came together well enough last week that Berding said the club would pitch the Oakley plans to MLS.

5. Public-private partnership established

A month-long saga between the club and local governments came to a head last week when FC Cincinnati’s request for $75 million in infrastructure costs was taken to city council and the Hamilton County Commissioners for votes last week.

The club ultimately secured about $52 million in public aid for parking, roads and improvements around the $200 million, 21,000-seat stadium, which will be privately financed by the team. The county agreed to pay $15 million for a 1,000-space parking garage (the team had asked for a 4,000 space garage), using revenue from other garages, and the city will pitch in $37 million to pay for other infrastructure expenses. The city money will come from an existing tax increment financing district in Oakley ($7.25 million), from the city’s capital budget ($2.5 million), from the Blue Ash airport sale ($7.38 million) and from hotel taxes ($20 million, but up to $1.5 million annually for 30 years) and could ultimately cost more than $62 million with fees and interest included.

FC Cincinnati reportedly also is seeking $10 million in state funds to help close the $20 million gap that remains.

Originally, FCC was asking for $100 million in public aid just for the stadium financing. Although the club is now financing the whole thing, the Port Authority will own the stadium and lease it to the team. Any cost overruns are FCC’s responsibility.

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Dragons photo gallery: vs. South Bend Cubs at Fifth Third Field

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 9:22 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 1:10 AM

Adult beverages, rain delay and Dragons baseball vs. the South Bend Cubs at Fifth Third Field in Dayton on Wed., April 18, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Pitcher Hunter Greene’s second start as a Dayton Dragon had an abbreviated ending on Wednesday night.

The Dragons led the visiting South Bend Cubs 3-0 with two outs in the top of the third inning when the game was suspended for more than an hour because of rain.

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Greene gets 2nd start, but Orewiler earns win for streaking Dragons

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 11:50 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 12:58 AM

Dragons pitcher Hunter Greene went 2.1 innings in a rain-delayed second start, a 4-1 defeat of the visiting South Bend Cubs at Fifth Third Field in Dayton on Wed., April 18, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Hunter Greene figured he would have to up his considerable game when he was promoted to the Dragons.

Sure enough, the Reds’ No. 1 draft pick from a year ago has dealt with elements that were foreign to his Los Angeles upbringing. There’s been rain, more rain, some snow and an entire three-game weekend series postponed in just two weeks of minor-league baseball.

It was more of the same for his delayed second start on Wednesday against visiting South Bend at Fifth Third Field.

“We’re going to face this,” said Greene following a 4-1 win that pushed the Dragons’ win streak to seven. “We’ve just got to be able to compete, bring our ‘A’ game and be ready to go.”

»RELATED: Dragons photo gallery vs. Cubs

Greene was supposed to have started last Saturday at West Michigan, but that road trip was completely washed out due to a winter storm that lingered throughout the Midwest. Instead, he unloaded on the Cubs and statistically was just as impressive as his debut nine days prior that drew national media.

He went 2.1 innings for a no-decision, allowing three hits, one walk, no runs and striking out three. And he brought the heat again.

»RELATED: Greene battles the elements

He hit 100 mph on his first three pitches in his opening assignment. On Wednesday, he topped that by hitting 101 mph in the second inning. That unofficially ties a stadium record that former Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman first registered during a major-league rehab assignment with the Dragons in 2014.

Cubs designated hitter Christian Donahue owns a black-and-blue souvenir of Greene’s magic moment: He was hit by the 101 mph missile.

Rain soon pelted the field before Greene could get out of the third inning. He was done following a 90-minute rain delay.

“It was great,” said Greene, who had 43 pitches and likely would not have gone past the third inning anyway. “It went really well and the team was strong. We stayed in it, competed and got the job done.”

»RELATED: This is how to make up for it

Dragons reliever Austin Orewiler (2-1) earned the win, going 4.2 innings, allowing a solo home run and striking out eight. Ryan Nutof and Sarkis Ohanian also each pitched scoreless innings to preserve what Greene and Orewiler started.

Dragons relievers have allowed just two earned runs during the win streak, a span of 31.2 innings.

»RELATED: Clementina delivers following trade from Dodgers

“It’s a great staff,” Dragons pitching coach Seth Etherton said. “These guys have meshed really well. It’s all about preparing. Once they understand a lot about themselves at this stage in their careers, that’s what it’s all about, figuring out what works for them.”

»TWITTER: You should like @MarcPendleton

Dragons third baseman John Sansone had a two-run homer, his first. The Dragons made the most of three hits. The Cubs had just five hits and celebrated starter Jose Albertos (0-1) was tagged with the loss. He’s the No. 3 minor-league prospect for the Cubs.

THURSDAY’S GAME

South Bend at Dayton, 7 p.m.

WONE-AM (980)

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Hunter Greene battles elements in second start for Dayton Dragons

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 8:30 PM

Hunter Greene (left), Dragons pitching coach Seth Etherton (middle) and catcher Hendrick Clementina meet on the mound in the third inning at Fifth Third Field (Photo: Marc Pendleton/CMG Ohio).
Hunter Greene (left), Dragons pitching coach Seth Etherton (middle) and catcher Hendrick Clementina meet on the mound in the third inning at Fifth Third Field (Photo: Marc Pendleton/CMG Ohio).

Hunter Greene’s second start for the Dayton Dragons was cut short by rain at Fifth Third Field on Wednesday night.  

The Cincinnati Reds’ No. 1 draft pick from 2017 was on the mound for about 10 minutes of a downpour before the game was halted by the umpires with one out in the top of the third inning and South Bend Cubs on second and third. 

Austin Orewiler replaced Greene after a one hour, three minute rain delay and struck out Austin Filiere with his first pitch. 

Miguel Amaya then lined out to right field to end the inning with the Dragons leading 3-0. 

Greene threw 47 pitches, including 26 strikes, in his second Midwest League (Class A) game. He struck out three, walked one and hit a batter in 2.1 innings. 

The 18-year-old struggled to find the plate late, though that was somewhat understandable given the conditions. 

Between the time rain started coming down hard and the delay, Greene walked a batter and went to a 3-2 count on first baseman Filiere. 

Greene stranded runners at second and third in the first inning. 

The game started with Jhonny Bethencourt singling up the middle. Yeiler Peguero then smashed one at shortstop Jose Garcia, who made a nice stop and from his backside threw Bethencourt out at second. 

After Filiere crushed a fastball that landed on the warning track in left field for a double, Amaya struck out looking at a 100-mile-per-hour heater to end the frame. 

RELATED: Greene dazzles in Dragons debut

The Cubs looked ready for the fastball in the second inning, too, as center fielder Chris Singleton made a loud out to left field on a fastball before Greene struck out Rafael Narea on an off-speed pitch. 

He went back to the heater to start out Christian Donahue, who hit a laser beam foul down the line. He wore Greene’s next pitch, a fastball that registered 101 on the stadium scoreboard and found Donahue’s thigh. 

After he took first base, the inning ended on a check-swing bouncer back to Greene off the bat of Zach Davis. 

The Dragons scored three runs in the first off righty Jose Albertos, No. 3 prospect in the Chicago organization according to Baseball America. 

The last two came on a 2-run homer by John Sansone that went over the 381 sign in left field.  

In two appearances for the Dragons, Greene has struck out 11, walked one and allowed two runs, both earned. He has needed 100 pitches (61 strikes) to get through 5.1 innings.  

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Dayton hands out team awards: Cunningham named MVP

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 8:23 PM

Highlights: Dayton's Josh Cunningham scores 32 vs. Rhode Island

The Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team, which finished 14-17 last season in the first year for coach Anthony Grant, held its annual awards banquet Wednesday.

» UD ARENA COVERAGE: Phase two will be busy time

Here’s a recap of the honors the players received:

White-Allen Most Valuable Player: Josh Cunningham

The redshirt junior from Chicago led the team in scoring (15.6 points per game) and ranked fifth in the nation in field-goal percentage (64.6). He made the All-Atlantic 10 third team. This award is sponsored by Tim White and the White-Allen Auto Group, Inc., and has been awarded since 1953.

“His consistency is a great example to all the guys on our team, especially the younger guys,” Dayton coach Anthony Grant said of Cunningham in December. “I think any young man that has a chance to come out and watch him play, the way he competes, his maturity on the floor, the way he carries himself, his competitive character is really what it’s all about. He’s as good a competitor as I’ve been around.”

Alex Schoen Memorial Free Throw Trophy: Darrell Davis

The senior guard from Detroit made 105 of 125 free throws (87.5 percent). It was the eighth-best single-season percentage in Dayton history. He finished his career ranked sixth in school history (175 of 219, 79.9). This trophy is named for Alex Schoen Sr., the captain of UD's first varsity basketball team in 1903-04.

» RECRUITING COVERAGE: Sidney junior earns scholarship offer

Dayton's Trey Landers dunks against Virginia Commonwealth on Thursday, March 8, 2018, at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

Chris Daniels Memorial Most Improved Player: Trey Landers

The sophomore guard from Wayne High School improved his scoring average from 3.0 to 11.3 and his rebounding average from 1.7 to 5.6. He appeared in nine games as a freshman and started all 29 games he appeared in as a sophomore. This award honors Chris Daniels, a Dayton center who died in 1996 during his senior year with the team.

» LOOK AHEAD: What the roster looks like now

Dayton's Jordan Davis drives to the basket against Virginia Commonwealth's Isaac Vann on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, at the Siegel Center in Richmond, Va.(David Jablonski - Staff Writer)

Thomas M. Luppe Award: Jordan Davis

This award honors a “first-year player (or players) on the team who best demonstrates the courage, desire and integrity of former Flyer freshman Tom Luppe,” who died in 1963 while playing in a freshman game. Davis, a freshman guard from Irmo, S.C., averaged 8.0 points per game and shot 39.4 percent (56 of 142) from 3-point range.

» RELATED: April recruiting period important for Dayton

Dayton’s John Crosby, Trey Landers and Jack Westerfield enter the game against La Salle on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, at Tom Gola Arena in Philadelphia. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

John L. Macbeth Memorial Scholar-Athlete Award: Jack Westerfield

The junior walk-on guard from Cincinnati appeared in 10 games. This award honors the memory of Dayton businessman John L. Macbeth and has has been awarded since 1959.

Dayton’s Jalen Crutcher dribbles against Virginia Commonwealth’s Jonathan Williams on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

Uhl Family Endowed Scholarship: Jalen Crutcher

The freshman point guard from Memphis, Tenn., averaged 9.2 points per game and led the team in assists (4.4 per game). He made the A-10 all-rookie team.

Dayton’s Ryan Mikesell and Obadiah Toppin watch the team warm up before a game against Tennessee Tech on Dec. 6, 2017, at UD Arena. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

James G. and Purcell S. Palmer Endowed Scholarship: Ryan Mikesell

The junior forward from St. Henry sat out the season after undergoing hip surgeries last summer and will return to the court in the 2018-19 season.

Dr. George Rau Spirit Award: Obadiah Toppin

The freshman forward from Ossining, N.Y., sat out the season as an academic redshirt but won this award, which honors Dayton’s longtime team physician, who died in 1972. This is the first time a non-active player has won the award. According to a Dayton press release, Toppin “took it upon himself to bring a positive attitude to the team every time the Flyers were on the court. This was evident in games when fans could see him, but also on the practice court. Not only did Toppin improve his own game in preparation for next season during practice, he made his teammates better by pushing them every day.”

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