Cincinnati, home to the worst football franchise in the NFL, has sold its fiscal future for the sake of its two professional sports teams: the Bengals and the Reds.
I say our fiscal future has been sold out, because without going into gory details, Hamilton County taxpayers are footing the bill for two new stadiums with a combined total cost of a ga-billion dollars (adjusted for inflation ) The football stadium was completed in 2000. The new Reds park will be open for business in time for this baseball season.
Recently, one of our county commissioners has taken the NFL to task, and is considering filing a lawsuit suing the Bengals for breach of contract on their stadium lease. The following article details what's going on.
What do you think? Is there any answer to professional sports holding communities hostage, and sucking up all the financial resources? Recently, a school levy and a mass transit levy were soundly defeated--two things which would obviously help the whole community in the long run.
But hey, how 'bout them Bengals?
Thursday, January 30, 2003
NFL, Bengals ignore Portune's deadline
County commissioner may sue today
The Associated Press
Hamilton County commissioner Todd Portune didn't get the response he wanted from the Bengals and the NFL Wednesday and may be ready to take them to court.
Portune, who says the Bengals have violated their stadium lease with the county by failing to field a competitive team, had set a Wednesday deadline for the team and the league to respond to his request to renegotiate the lease.
"We didn't hear a thing at all from the Bengals," Portune said Wednesday night.
A lawyer for the NFL refused his demand that a league representative meet with him, Portune said.
Portune might decide today whether to file a suit in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, he said. He would have to do it as a private citizen, since he failed to persuade the county's two other commissioners to support a lawsuit by the county.
Portune wants the Bengals to renegotiate their lease for Paul Brown Stadium. The county owns the $458 million stadium, which opened in 2000.
Portune also has lobbied the NFL to provide a $80 million loan to enable county taxpayers to pay off the stadium debt within the originally projected 20 years.
Portune said projections show it will take at least 35 years to retire the stadium debt with revenues from a half-cent sales tax increase that county voters approved in 1996.
Portune says the Bengals promised, in return for the stadium, to field a competitive team. The Bengals haven't made the NFL playoffs since 1990 and just finished their worst season ever with a 2-14 record.
Two college professors who specialize in sports economics and stadium financing issues said that Portune will have a difficult time proving that Bengals owner Mike Brown hasn't tried to put a winning team on the field.
"It doesn't strike me ... as a real strong case," said Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College economist. "What's the evidence that Brown hasn't tried?"
"It's all going to rest on whether they can prove that Cincinnati didn't field a competitive team," said Rodney Fort, a Washington State University economist. "The question is, how much better do they expect the Cincinnati Bengals to be? ... I don't think management can be found culpable."
Zimbalist and Fort said they had not heard of any other lawsuits similar to the one Portune proposes to file.
Spokesmen for the Bengals and the NFL declined comment.
In a letter to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue this week, Portune demanded that the Bengals agree to $124 million in lease changes, along with the $80 million loan from the NFL. The NFL has made loans available to eight other NFL cities for new stadiums, Portune said in his letter.
Portune referred to what the league calls its G-3 program, created in March 1999 to make financial contributions to stadium construction in NFL cities. League officials said the program was designed to provide loans to teams to help existing franchises get new stadiums in their cities.
PS: Are we still doing flags?