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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)
FC Cincinnati executives didn't go unnoticed while attending Los Angeles FC's home opener at newly opened Banc of California Stadium on Sunday, and they made no effort to hide the fact they were checking out the latest Major League Soccer expansion club's setup.
Now, the third-year United Soccer League club says it was attending the game as guests of MLS and finally is providing some insight as to why there has been no bid awarded to the Queen City yet.
In a statement sent out Wednesday, FCC said owner and Chief Executive Officer Carl H. Lindner III, President and General Manager Jeff Berding and owner David Thompson attended the game — along with principals from other potential expansion groups — and the bid was discussed.
"During the trip to Los Angeles, discussions about our expansion bid occurred with MLS executives," the statement read. "While extraordinary progress has been made, all of our work must be finalized — including various legal agreements with the City, Port, County and CPS (Cincinnati Public Schools) and an assessment of our interim MLS Nippert Stadium plan — before our bid will be 100 percent complete for final review.
"As we continue to finalize our bid, FCC and MLS are scheduling a visit to Cincinnati by MLS Commissioner Don Garber and MLS executives, during which time they will also meet with club ownership."
After ESPN broadcasters mentioned FCC's presence on air during the game, Berding tweeted out some photos, one that seemed to be the exact same shot of the field as Garber and leading to speculation there was a meeting taking place.
Fans have been awaiting word on the status of the bid since MLS had its Board of Governors meeting two weeks ago in Los Angeles.
No date for an MLS visit to Cincinnati has been released.
"We've come extraordinarily far in such a short time, but before we have the opportunity to earn a place in Major League Soccer, we must have complete due diligence to ensure a success and we're focused on that at this time," FCC's statement continued. "We appreciate our community's continued support of our club and our goal to bring an MLS franchise to our region."
Seemingly in preparation for an MLS season at Nippert Stadium next year before a soccer specific stadium's construction is complete in the West End, FCC added digital sponsorship boards along the eastern sideline at the University of Cincinnati facility this season, along with field suites in both southern corners. The club hired Lizz Summers, formerly with the New England Revolution and most recently Boston College athletics, as its new public relations director, and she began this week.
Last year, FCC paid to widen the pitch to MLS and FIFA standards.
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