Field of Schemes
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January 16, 2009

County to Bengals: How about a bailout for us?

Now here's a pleasant change of pace: Hamilton County Commission President David Pepper says he's considering asking the NFL or the Cincinnati Bengals for a bailout on the team's lease at Paul Brown Stadium, which is set to start costing the county millions of dollars a year in coming years. "It may be a Don Quixote mission, but it's worth raising," Pepper told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Pleasant, that is, until you read why Pepper needs the bailout: According to the Bengals' lease at the nine-year-old, publicly bought-and-paid-for stadium, the team stops paying rent to the county this year. Starting in 2018, the county pays the team for "any and all expenses of any nature whatsoever incurred by the Team relating to the Stadium Complex." (This is the same lease clause that requires the public to pay for any stadium upgrades that half of other NFL teams have, including but not limited to "holographic replay systems.")

Bengals owner Mike Brown says the lease was front-loaded at the county's request: "We're paying no rent now because we already paid the rent." Though given that the Bengals only agreed to pay $11.7 million total over nine years for use of a $455 million stadium - and still haven't paid some of what the county says they owe - it's hard to argue that the team couldn't afford to cough up a bit more to bail out the local school system.

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