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The USL club already feels like it has been around for decades, although it played its first game just 10 months ago.Record-setting crowds at an historic stadium have that affect. We like to rag on the ‘Bungles.’ But the city has really been yearning for something a little new–something that’s different,” Berry said.But its days as a 19th-century boomtown were long gone.Population within the city limits fell continuously during the second half of the 1900s, and Cincinnati faced many of the same challenges encountered by its Rust Belt brethren. Two years ago, Cincinnati’s economy was growing faster than that of any other Midwestern city.Then an odd but appealing opportunity arose—FC Anyang in South Korea.Berry took a chance, moved to the city outside Seoul and quickly became an automatic starter.“We’re certainly not New York City and we’re not Chicago.But I think as Portland and Kansas City have shown, you can be a next-tier media market and earn enormous support,” Berding said.
And then this fall, the men of 1-year-old FC Cincinnati were grand marshals at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. The man who intends to take FCC to MLS is a member of another Cincinnati institution: the Lindner family.“Cincinnati has always been a sports town, an historic sports town. “I grew up on the Big Red Machine and the Bengals teams of the ‘80s that went to two Super Bowls,” said Jeff Berding, who was a city councilman and Bengals executive for nearly 20 years before becoming FCC’s president and general manager.“We are a major league city and soccer is the world’s sport.“We’re going to continue to fine-tune the funding model, and that’s going to be a bit of ongoing work.But at the end of the day, we have a plan that can get it done.” Berding, a youth goalkeeper who also was involved as a coach and administrator in local youth soccer, helped run the mid-1990s campaign that resulted in voter approval for the 0.5% sales tax increase that funded construction of new riverfront stadiums for the Bengals and Reds.