Nearly two months ago, it was first reported that according to the lease with Hamilton County, if the Cincinnati Bengals wanted to upgrade their scoreboard, they could and Hamilton County would have to foot the bill. Per the Enquirer's report in August.
That's because the lease clause 12.3, covering "Level I Enhancements." The clause refers to a "stadium-related improvement" that was not prevalent when the lease was signed in 1997 but is "capable of being added" later. Examples cited in the lease include a "holographic replay system" and "next generation video screen."
For the team to install new technology, it must be installed in 14 other NFL stadiums. Currently 21 stadiums have a high-definition scoreboard, and the Bengals want one.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bengals Vice President Troy Blackburn officially made the request for the scoreboard upgrade on Sept. 20.
In the letter, obtained by The Enquirer under Ohio public records laws, Blackburn explained the current scoreboard has 14-year-old technology, is among the oldest boards still in operation in any NFL stadium and is among the smallest.
"With age comes predictable issues – replacement parts for boards are difficult to find, the luminance has dimmed over the years and often replacement elements cannot match the original board so uneven pictures are presented," Blackburn said.
The boards, he wrote, "have failed during games, which has caused our fans to recognize the reality that the boards are past their useful life."
The estimated cost for the upgrade would be roughly $10 million, which hasn't been budgeted in the county's five-year plan to "balance the fund" that pays for the stadium. Hamilton County definitely doesn't have the money, according to Hamilton County Board of Commissioners President Chris Monzel. Bengals lawyer Stuart Dornette told the Enquirer that "that the club has offered to play a significant role" in the upgrade, but "declined to share details."
If the county refuses to pay for the upgrade, the Bengals can go ahead and purchase the upgrade and then bill county.