Last week, Hamilton County Commissioners learned exactly how much trouble the stadium fund will be in the next few years...and the news was worse than expected.
Over the past decade, the Bengals have had multiple chances to improve their status in the community, and every single time, they have failed to capture an opportunity to show their fans and the citizens of Hamilton County one simple thing: We're in this together with you.
Now, Hamilton County, and more importantly the citizens of Hamilton County, need some kind of solution to fill a gap that could reach $92 million by 2014. At the very least, $13.2 million in 2010 if the tax revenues decrease by two percent.
While the Bengals have claimed they have 'not talked to the county yet', be sure that informal talks have been on-going and persistent.
The Bengals, once again, have been presented with an opportunity to build an incredible amount of public goodwill. Once again, they will likely stay silent.
They have the opportunity to say this:
To the Citizens of Hamilton County:
You voted (by a 60/40 margin) to build us a new stadium in March 1996 that will allow us to stay competitive in the NFL, against those big market giants like New York, Dallas, and Chicago. You have continued to support us as we racked up the worst record in professional sports over the past two decades. You even gave us a sell-out streak since late 2003 that has lasted despite the accomplishment of one winning season and zero playoff wins during that time. With a history as lean as ours, that might not have happened in many other NFL cities outside of Green Bay.
While we are not legally obligated to do so (and trust us, we know the law!), we want to help out the citizens of Hamilton County that allowed us to keep our family business thriving. We are willing to look again at our deal and create a solution that will allow property owners in Hamilton County not to lose their tax rollback, as was promised when the issue was voted on in 1996.
We are a part of this community, and it is time that we support our fans that have been so blindly (and sometimes illogically) loyal to us for our entire existence.
We're all in this together, and are prepared to look again at our lease with the County for the betterment of our region and our fans. You have supported us through many dark times, and now we owe it to you to show our gratitude.
When you follow a sports team, specifically one as futile as the Bengals, it's not an easy gig. Combine that with the bad news that hits our doorstep every single day with the economy...and it's not hard to get fairly depressed in general about life. What the Bengals have lacked for last twenty years is common sense and awareness. A simple acknowledgment to address this situation would be a step in the right direction.
But, status quo is the norm around here. And a twenty year sample size tells us to expect nothing less.