Bengals Plan To Ask $43 Million From Hamilton County

There's actually a game being played.

With nearly two-thirds of season-ticket holders saying they are not renewing their season tickets in Joe Reedy's piece, and 72% saying they're not responding to a Lance McAlister poll, it's starting to show that the Bengals fanbase is in the middle of an exodus. It hasn't helped that Marvin Lewis appeared to bow down to a heavy-handed owner, disregarding the very real talk of change that had fans in his corner. It also hasn't helped that of all the players on the team, Carson Palmer is the one demanding a trade.

Maybe it's not so shocking that our franchise quarterback has very little to do with the city during the season and when the offseason comes around, he disappears like there's ringwraiths on his tail. But that's another topic for another day.

As we've pointed out many times, the organization is in turmoil with players hoping that the franchise takes their job a little more seriously with fans checking out, having turned in their fan card for more important things. Like cleaning out the gutters, trimming the hedges and repairing the kitchen sink, even when there isn't a leak. It's more rewarding to clean and repair the house than to watch Mike Brown digging a ditch, during all of the fans and players alive.

The Cincinnati Bengals are seeing this, right? Perhaps not.

According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals are have put together a plan that's requesting $43 million from Hamilton County over the course of a decade for "repairs and improvements over the next decade", which includes an "$8 million, state-of-the-art scoreboard sometime in the next two years."

The Bengals claim that the cost -- which is four-times higher than originally projected -- is modest.

"The Bengals are not a team that goes for the high end for much of anything," said Stuart Dornette, an attorney for the Bengals. "It's not as if they're interested in throwing around money."

We knew that already, Stuart. However, Hamilton County is broke. County Commissioner Greg Hartmann said:

"The stadium might require $43 million in improvements in the next 10 years, but if the sales tax doesn't generate the dollars we can't do it," said Hartmann, the president of the county's three-man commission.

Of course a stadium has to keep repairs and maintenance, or else it will deteriorate.

In 1996, Hamilton County 61% of residents voted in favor of a half-cent sales tax to build Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park. A year later, the Bengals signed their lease, calling for County to cover maintenance and capital improvements, which expires in 2026. The Reds' lease forces Hamilton County to cover Capital improvements while the team would pay for routine maintenance costs. Paul Brown Stadium opened in 2000, with a cost of $455 million while Great American Ball Park opened in 2003 with a cost of $349 million.

Since 2003, Hamilton County taxpayers had to pay for improvements and upkeep at Paul Brown Stadium in 2003 ($677,344), 2005 ($1,214,439), 2006 ($1,482,326), 2007 ($1,159,914), 2008 ($2,322,843), 2009 ($1,222,771) and 2010 ($512,230). Comparatively speaking, taxpayers only had to pay $2,177,870 million for upkeep and improvement at Great American Ball Park.

Because the revenue from the sales tax lowered from the projected 3% over the last decade to 1.4%, Hamilton County Commissioners had to borrow $5.5 million to cover deficits regarding the stadiums. Commissioners tried to "bail out" the Stadium Fund by forcing homeowners to pay more money in property taxes while reducing the property tax rollback. The deal asked for the Reds and Bengals to add a combined $9.6 million over the next five years in rent. Neither have signed off on the deal and the average Hamilton County homeowner will pay an additional $80 this year, covering the $28 million in debt.

There's a reason why people say that the Bengals got a sweet deal. And there's a reason why Hamilton County taxpayers got screwed. Not only do they have to deal with County having no money and increasing revenue from, say property taxes, they have to support a team that has absolutely no pride in themselves nor gives a damn at the plight of those that gave them this sweet deal. Yet, none of this would matter if the team made fans proud.

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