Ox Posted January 26, 2009 Report Share Posted January 26, 2009 Goodwill gesture could earn team county's gratitudeBy Paul Daugherty • firstname.lastname@example.org• January 25, 2009Hamilton County would be better off financially with Paul Brown Stadium in mothballs. The landlord would be more solvent with an empty apartment building. Not that we're pushing for that. We're just presenting the case as it stands today. Burn the village to save it.Without the Bengals, the county would save the money it pays for utilities, for the 30 full-time people it employs there during football season, for every lightbulb, paper clip and roll of paper towels. Because Hamilton County is on the hook for everything at the stadium, it costs more to run the place than to have it vacant.That was some deal the commissioners struck, back in 1997.The lease between the Bengals and Hamilton County is a noose around the county's financial neck, and every day it tightens a little more. The county always will be able to meet its stadium obligations: All other promises made are close to being broken."On our current course, the obligations start to be greater than the money coming in," is how county commissioner David Pepper puts it.Translation: That property tax rebate? Forget it. The $10 million promised annually to schools, scheduled to start in 2010, already delayed from 2006? Obligations to the Reds and Bengals, involving maintenance of their stadiums? Well, uh ..."In a couple years, the stadium fund is going to be ugly," said Pepper. "The revenues have been south for quite some time."Things can be done, Pepper says. They depend mostly on the beneficence of Mike Brown.Next question."If (the Bengals) would be a helpful partner so there's a way out of this ...," Pepper says. He doesn't want to antagonize. Pepper understands Brown's reluctance. A deal is a deal. Besides, the county sued Mike Brown, didn't it? Why would he be in a (for)giving mood?"They don't have to do anything,'' Pepper says.Ah, but they could.Brown's not obligated, legally. The lease "is airtight," Pepper concedes. Brown caught the county and the fans at a ripe moment, when the economy was good and the NFL was in full extortion mode. Paul Brown Stadium wasn't the only tax-funded palace built during that time.Blackmailing cities to fund stadiums was among former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue's top priorities. He did very well.The Bengals didn't do bad, either. After upfront payments for construction and rent, the Bengals control everything at PBS: Advertising, parking, concessions, suites, etc. They pay for none of the upkeep.If Marvin Lewis decided tomorrow that the hedges surrounding the practice fields were too short to provide adequate cover, county workers would be there with shovels. Carpet worn in the club lounge? Water main break in the men's room? Call the county.If a high school game is played on the field, the Bengals get the money. When Cirque du Soleil camped out in the lot next door, the Bengals got the parking. Naming rights? Great idea. The money would go to the Bengals.Pepper would seek a little flexibility. He'd like a mulligan on the lease.Mike Brown isn't receptive at the moment. Bengals spokesman Jack Brennan said Friday the club would have no comment, beyond what Brown told The Enquirer's Peter Bronson more than a week ago. Brown said he felt like the "scapegoat" for the county's problems. He has a point.However ...The man perceived to be wearing the black hat could come riding in on a white horse. Mike Brown couldn't save the day. He could make it better. The Bengals president is seen as a guy with his hand perpetually outstretched, palm up. The image does bother him.Here's what he could say:"This community is suffering. I live in this community. I'm grateful for what the community has done for me and my family. Let's see what the Bengals can do to help."It's not Mike's problem. He could offer some of the solution, though. Isn't that what good corporate citizens do?http://news.cincinnati.com/article/2009012...ZkuwTiWir+OY%3D Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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