The Bengals were in flux. The organization, led by owner Mike Brown, knew the team could not play in Riverfront stadium much longer. The team wanted a new stadium and wanted the city and county to help pay for it. The time had come for the local government to put up or shut up.
Los Angeles and Houston had just lost teams to other cites facing the same situation the people of Cincinnati were facing. It was common knowledge the Bengals were being courted by a group from Baltimore and possibly others. The Bengals could make the move to another city if they wanted, and honestly, probably would have received an even more favorable deal if they did.
So it went to the taxpayers of Hamilton County. A half cent tax increase, which would finance the new stadiums for both the Bengals and the Reds. The vote passed, and it wasn't even close. Now we can debate the deal, and the way the county portrays the deal until we are blue in the face. The fact is, this was not a sneaky back alley negotiation. This deal was transparent from the Bengals standpoint and the voters approved it.
The building itself is outstanding. In 2007 the American Institute of Architects named it the only NFL stadium listed in the top 150 buildings and structures. This included any structure in the United States.
The fans followed through after the vote with the first 28 games in the new stadium being sellouts. Debates raged about the Bengals not holding up their end of the bargain and we still feel the blow back of these debates today from Internet message boards and grandstanding politicians looking to blame the budget on anything but their own errors.
The Bengals stay, and taxpayers of Hamilton County now have a concrete marvel that at least 10 times a year becomes the home of the black-and-orange-wearing faithful. Some go to cheer, others go to drink. Either way, it was a success keeping the team we love in Cincinnati.