CINCINNATI – Christmas is still two weeks away, but FC Cincinnati's CEO & Controlling Owner Carl Lindner III already got what he wanted.
As Meg Whitman and her husband Dr. Griff Harsh were unveiled as the club's new managing owners on Monday, Lindner noted that over the club's nine-to-12 month effort to raise capital, this was exactly what he was looking for. Whitman brings a sizable investment from a family with business acumen tailor-made for a young sports franchise.
"Their investment well-positions our club to achieve some pretty grand ambitions," said Lindner. "We always aspire to use soccer as a means to place Cincinnati on the world's stage. With West End stadium starting to rise from the ground and on pace to be open in 2021, we have an amazing opportunity ahead of us to establish Cincinnati at the heart of American soccer."
Lindner stressed, though, that it wasn't just money Whitman was providing. Her family's technology, real-estate and media experience will be leaned on heavily.
"I'm a collaborative leader," Lindner said. "I think it's been great the Farmer and Joseph family brought their unique perspectives as we build sponsorships, attendance, and helping us network. I look for the same coming from Meg and her family."
That's not to say that this should be viewed as a passing of the torch.
"We didn’t make this investment, time, and effort with the thought of selling the team, or not being involved," Lindner remarked. "I look at it as a long-term commitment and investment. We want to leave a unique legacy for our community in Cincinnati."
Part of that legacy is growing the game of soccer, and Lindner offered up a grand vision for the future.
"When you look at the investment by the MLS teams in academies, there's no reason why the US can't develop, over time, the top soccer players in the world," noted Lindner. "It's just that the investments are fairly new. We along with other clubs have just started the academies. You're not getting the Messis in a few years. Over time, you'll see the MLS and US have the potential to development some pretty meaningful talent."
And from FCC’s standpoint, that certainly seems to be a focal point of investments like their cutting-edge new training facility.
"That's the exciting part of what we're doing. To think about FC Cincinnati five years from now, maybe a quarter or a third of the team could be Homegrown Players," Lindner added. "I think the quality of the training facilities continues to support not only in attracting quality talent internationally, but also training the youth."
Lindner is more than content with this hefty new investment from Whitman, but that doesn't mean the club is done this offseason.
"When you're on the pitch and a new team, it takes you a while to get the right mix of players to be as competitive as you want to be," he said. "We're still hard at work looking at adding a few additional players we think can make a difference for next season."