With a recent trend of relocations around the NFL -- the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles, the San Diego Chargers to Los Angeles, and now the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas - fans of NFL teams are beginning to worry. The NFL saw a similar trend in the 1980s and 1990s when the Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Colts, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns, and Houston Oilers all moved to new cities within a span of 15 years. Throw in the Raiders moving from Los Angeles, back to Oakland, 13 years after their initial move, and the whole thing starts to get a little confusing. Luckily for Bengals fans, owner Mike Brown seems adamant that this situation will not happen to the Bengals.
“We want to stay in Cincinnati we have done everything we can figure out to make that possible,” Brown told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “The future is never altogether clear, but I don’t know what more we could have done to make it possible to stay rooted. We want to stay in Cincinnati.”
That Bengals are under lease at Paul Brown Stadium through 2026. So, the Bengals and the people of Cincinnati won’t have to worry about the potential of the Bengals moving for about nine years. But, back at the turn of the millennium, the Bengals went through their own dance with the city. There were threats of relocation at multiple times, but ultimately a deal was worked out and the Bengals stayed where they belonged.
“We discussed it before. Our situation is akin to the teams that were in the stadium development game at the same time we were,” Brown said. “Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore, every team in our division, for example. I don’t think they are all going to move. I hope none of them move.”
Since 2016, the NFL has started to see the relocation dance start to pick back up. It’s an unfortunate situation, but certain teams have made the decision that moving to a new city makes more financial sense than sticking with the fans that have attended their games and funded their existence over the years. The hope is that the plague of relocation will end with the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas. But, that just isn’t how the NFL works. Even the Bengals could end up moving one day if the financial situation leaves them no other choice.
“We fought hard to get a new stadium. To put that question aside. I think what we did has worked. If we didn’t have the stadium we have today I don’t think we would have been able to stay in Cincinnati,” Brown said. “We would have had to move because the numbers wouldn’t have allowed an NFL team to be supported.
The Bengals did, in fact, fight to get a new stadium in Cincinnati. Most people believe the taxpayers of Hamilton County didn’t exactly receive a fair deal, but you could also make the same argument about all NFL stadiums.
Personally, I couldn’t continue to follow the Bengals if they moved away. I have lived in Cincinnati for my whole life and have grown up knowing my favorite football team was part of my community. I can only imagine how the people of St. Louis, San Diego, and Oakland must feel after the recent events that have transpired. But, relocation is unfortunately part of the NFL and a very real threat to NFL teams. People were absolutely dumbfounded that the Browns moved from Cleveland in 1996. If they can move, it can happen to anyone. Let’s just hope the Bengals don’t have to worry about that in nine years when it’s time to work out a new stadium deal.