In a move that makes you want to pull your hair out, the Bengals have sent a letter to Hamilton County asking for $43M over the next 10 years, four times the amount the County expected to spend, to pay for a new scoreboard and broad categories like "groundskeeping," "audio/visual," or "concession."
As the Enquirer stated, Mark Rosentraub, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan, estimates the Bengals only need between $2-4 million each season for maintenance.
Does Mike Brown know the budget struggles the City and County are going through right now? Not only trying to keep fully funding schools and prevent laying off police and fire staff, but also working to pay down the $1B spent to build PBS and GABP?
As the Enquirer wrote: "Since Paul Brown Stadium opened in 2000 and Great American Ball Park opened in 2003, taxpayers have made $10.2 million in improvements to the football stadium and $2.1 million in improvements to the baseball stadium.
That's partly because of differences in the leases: The Bengals lease, signed in 1997, says the county must pay for routine maintenance and all capital repairs at Paul Brown Stadium. The Reds lease, signed in 2003, says the county only has to pay for capital improvements at Great American; the team pays the rest."
Yes, the team has recently started contributing to some capital improvements (new cash registers, as if that isn't ironic enough that the only thing the Bengals will invest in is better cash registers), but this is just a boneheaded move all around. You have a team falling apart, fans revolting and not buying tickets and a County struggling to keep basic services afloat - and you demand $40M for unspecified improvements?
Do the Bengals not understand how the stadium fund was set up? Basically, the stadiums and improvmetns were paid for by an increase in the sales tax. That sales tax increase was projected to provide the County with enough revenue to build the stadiums and fund improvements. But, suprise suprise, the projections have not been met and the sales tax fund is not driving enough revenue to the County to even make the debt payments on the intial stadium fund. So the County must decide where to pull the money from to be able to make the debt payments - if they default, the County's credit rating would go in the tank and then every other service would become more expensive as financing terms would significantly appreciate.
It is moves like this that really show the Bengals true colors. Not wanting to come to table to negotiate, not being a real corporate citizen, no compassion for the County's current budget crisis - just a demand for more without making any real effort to change anything that would produce a winner. If the Bengals were winning playoff games, I am sure this money would not be an issue. But when you consistently lose and fail to show any committment to the City and its fans, this kind of cold-hearted demand will fall on deaf ears.