The Cincinnati Bengals are among a minority of NFL teams who do not have an indoor practice field.
The Packers, Steelers, Browns, Ravens, Jets, Saints, Bears, Giants, Seahawks, Eagles, Colts, Broncos, Dolphins, Texans, Titans, Lions, Cowboys and Cardinals are among the teams that have indoor facilities for frigid days, as well as sweltering days. The Buccaneers have an indoor facility underway and the Redskins had one that was recently destroyed by snow. But Cincinnati is the NFL’s most northern city without an indoor field for its players to use for practice.
Every year, there are a few practices for which the Bengals use University of Cincinnati’s practice bubble—yes, a large number of colleges have indoor practice fields, too— but why haven’t the Bengals just built their own indoor practice field?
On a recent episode of The HawkCast, A.J. Hawk's podcast, the former Bengals player spoke with quarterback Andy Dalton on a number of topics. One of them was why the Bengals don't have an indoor practice facility. Dalton acknowledged that many players would like to have an indoor facility, but that he doesn't think anyone has made a big deal of it or brought it up to the front office. Hawk, who spent 2015 with the Bengals, noted that owner Mike Brown attends nearly every practice, and said he thought it would make sense for Brown to want to be indoors on cold winter days.
Apparently, he doesn’t want to be indoors badly enough to do something about it. The Bengals just practice outside in harsh conditions, or cancel practice when the weather is exceedingly bad.
Meanwhile, a newcomer to the Cincinnati sports scene, Futbol Club Cincinnati, plans to build an indoor practice facility in a nearby suburb. The soccer team is acknowledging the need to create desirable practice conditions for its players in only its second season, while the Bengals are heading into season number 50 in 2017.
Also Friday, Berding said the club has plans to build a $25 million suburban training facility. The site has not been chosen, but the club has talked to government officials in Clermont, Warren and other surrounding counties. Wherever the club chooses to build a practice complex, FC Cincinnati wants the local government to play a part in investing around the facility. That investment could include a hotel and restaurants, Berding said.
Yes, $25 million is a lot of money. But, wouldn’t it be worth it for the long-term for the Bengals to stop relying on an NCAA team and have an indoor facility in which they can easily practice when the weather is bad? There were rumors the team was looking into building an indoor practice facility back in 2011, per Marvin Lewis' request, but it has yet to happen.
In 2015, the Bengals did make improvements to the team’s weight room and installed synthetic turf in the stadium's training area. That room is used for exceedingly rainy days during training camp and the regular season. But, that’s far from the standard for an NFL team, especially a team that plays in a northern city.
It seems it’s time for Brown to fork up the cash and do something beneficial for everyone associated with the Bengals’ organization. What do you think?