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Professional Sports Teams

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? :)


Cyburbian Plus
The piedmont of NC a couple years ago voted down an idea to have probaseball, the communities woke up and realized it was a sham deal. Thank G*d

Now its being talked about in NoVa-ick!

Sports teams-like in Charlotte NC want newer, bigger, better etc all the time and if they dont get it they throw a fit saying they will leave-let em. They make tons of money *not to mention add crime, the players in some cases, to an area* let em build their own arenas.


Kind of like the Ottawa Senators?

Declare bankruptcy, then reorganize and buy back the assets for pennies on the dollar. Probably to be sold in the near future.


maudit anglais
But at least the government had the sense in that case to back down and not give them any breaks, or money.

In the mid-1980s the government pretty much paid for and built Skydome here for the Blue Jays - cost around $600 million. They sold it a few years back for barely $100 million.


Check out "Field of Schemes" by Neil DeMause and Joanna Cagon...

Also, you might be interested in the "Save Fenway Park" website, a cause near and dear to my heart - www.savefenwaypark.com

In Boston, the Red Sox were asking for half a billion dollars from the city and state to tear Fenway, which is a true historic treasure, so they could build a replica a block away.

What I find truly sickening in a lot of these cases is the use of eminent domain by cities to assemble parcels. The thought of taking somebody's land away (with compensation, I guess) and giving to a sports team to build their stadium just blows me away.

I think the only solution is to have voters who are smart enough to recognize that they're being scammed.

I expect that to happen any minute now...


lowlyplanner said:
What I find truly sickening in a lot of these cases is the use of eminent domain by cities to assemble parcels. The thought of taking somebody's land away (with compensation, I guess) and giving to a sports team to build their stadium just blows me away.

Government entities are required to provide "fair market value" for any property acquired through eminent domain, as well as relocation assistance to any persons who are forced from their homes through such procedures. Of course, this does not make it suck any less. And it is ridiculous that people actually buy the argument that a sports team is a major economic development activity when the necessary facilities are only used 10 - 20 times per year. Nothing says progress like a sea of empty parking lots 340 days a year!

What kills me most is where eminent domain is used to acquire and subsequently demolish buildings with historic significance where viable alternatives exist across the street.