Photo of Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio.

Image Credit: MoToMo - Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The construction costs for Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals, has been a thorn in the side of Hamilton County taxpayers for nearly two decades now. Under the current lease agreement which was signed back in 1997, Hamilton County taxpayers will begin contributing nearly $3M annually to the Cincinnati Bengals to pay for operational costs on game days. Hamilton County has requested to delay 2018’s payment until 2019 because it is currently facing a budget deficit of more than $28M. Go figure.

As a result of the budget deficit, Hamilton County is considering raising it’s sales tax to pay for it’s overcrowded jails, police force and avoid downsizing it’s city workforce. Maybe Cincinnati's streetcar project has something to do with the county's current fiscal predicament? Don’t worry, it gets worse. The cost of the game day operations at Paul Brown Stadium are expected to increase 5% each season. That essentially means Hamilton County’s taxpayer contributions to the Cincinnati Bengals will increase indefinitely. 2018’s payments will be paid in three installments of $890,000 in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The construction costs for both Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds, were covered by a ½ cent sales tax increase in Hamilton County. Since 2000, Hamilton County taxpayers have contributed nearly $1B towards both stadiums. The agreement has been extremely lopsided in favor of the Cincinnati Bengals, however, Cincinnati would have likely lost the team had they not coughed up the money. Unfortunately, Hamilton County taxpayers did also approve of the stadium deal at the ballot box. The Wall Street Journal once called the Hamilton County stadium deal to be one of the worst in professional sports history.

In return for not being able to come up with the $2.67M needed for 2018’s game day operations, Hamilton County will instead contribute $1.46M to cover minor upgrades for Paul Brown Stadium. The upgrades will include

  • A facelift to the player locker rooms.
  • New security cameras throughout the stadium’s property.
  • New sales registers at the concession stands and merchandise stores.
  • Improvements to the stadium's escalators.

The Cincinnati Bengals lease with Paul Brown Stadium expires in 2026 and the team has the option of extending their lease past that date. 


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