Bengals miraculously agree to pay for a small cut of Bengals things

The Cincinnati Bengals lease is a bit legendary in some quarters, being that it contains one of those “state of the art” clauses that requires Hamilton County to provide any upgrades that other NFL teams have already gotten, specifically mentioning such imaginary enhancements as “stadium self-cleaning machines” and a “holographic replay system.” So it’s big news, kind of, that the Bengals owners and the county have cut a deal on a revision of the lease.

The prompt for the new lease had nothing to do with the team’s ridiculous guarantees — they’re not negotiating those away so fast — but rather that Hamilton County is looking to build a new mixed-use development that would include a General Electric building and apartment towers near Paul Brown Stadium, and this would exceed the height limits in the Bengals’ deal. So the county offered a swap: increased height limits for a list of items that the Bengals execs neglected to get the first time:

  • $7.5 million toward a new scoreboard that’s already required by the state-of-the-art clause.
  • $3 million in public funding for part of the $3.5 million cost of installing Wi-Fi at the stadium.
  • Permission to add an expanded weight room for an MLS franchise, if Cincinnati ever gets one (for football, not soccer — see comments below).
  • The right to hold one game a year in London if the Bengals so choose.

Given the Bengals’ old lease, none of this is actually so bad — really, getting the team to pay anything toward stadium improvements at this point is a plus for the public. County commissioner Todd Portune, who’s been one of the Bengals’ biggest critics, called it “a new era in our relationship,” so maybe it really is possible to get team owners to kick in money for things that will benefit them just by sitting across the table and shaming them. So long as, you know, it’s only a little part of the money.


9 comments on “Bengals miraculously agree to pay for a small cut of Bengals things

  1. Upgrades? At a stadium that isn’t even 14 years old yet? And how does WiFi cost $3.5 million? Does McDonald’s pay that at every restaurant so their customers can surf the web while choking down their Happy Meals? Ridiculous…all of it.

    This is a great website, Neil, but every time I log on and read it, I find myself less and less interested in pro sports (and I’m a sports director at a 100,000-watt radio station). Not your fault because all you’re doing is bringing the truth out.

  2. Wow another NFL owner is thinking about buying a soccer team. Wonder why not the Nba or NHL when there are pro sports in winter.

  3. I needs me a state of the art clause. I want teleporters to beam folks to their seats, and some call girls in every luxury box. I’ll think of more stuff in the meantime while the public comes up with the cash they owe me.

  4. Are they trying to make sure they maintain their competitiveness in the run for worst NFL contract ever?

  5. Interestingly enough, “fan” attendance numbers are irrelevant. They want you to think that “fans” attending games actually mean something. It’s a money grab at this point They realize that the public will eventually realize that it’s best to watch the game from home or a bar/restaurant that has decent food and beer (prices). Attendance was never used as a metric to “guilt” people into going to games until about 20 years ago. Right around the time that the Indiana acquired their free stadium. After that, attendance numbers were suddenly en vogue.

  6. Neil, you do a great job with your web site, but you got something wrong in this post. You said that they are building a weight room for a future MLS team. But they are expanding the weight room for themselves, not a soccer team. The article says: “An expanded weight room, which would move into space set aside should a professional soccer team ever come to Cincinnati. The Bengals would pay for the expansion, but they need county permission to make the changes.” The weight room isn’t for soccer. (Most MLS stadiums do not even include a weight room.) The Bengals want to take space that had been reserved for soccer, and use it for themselves. So this is a move away from soccer, not towards soccer.

  7. Thanks, Dave — I misread that the first time as meaning the space was set aside for a soccer weight room. Will correct it.

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