County-Bengals Relationship Has Warmed, Even As Team Requests Stadium Review

Dec 14, 2015

The Bengals say after 16 years, it's time to look at possible upgrades for Paul Brown Stadium.
Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU

The Cincinnati Bengals are asking Hamilton County for a review of Paul Brown Stadium comparing it with other NFL facilities.  The request falls under the terms of the lease approved nearly 20 years ago. Commission President Greg Hartmann says the stadium is an important county asset.

“Certainly a review makes a lot of sense,” he says. “We’re about done with 20 years of this stadium, and the lease expires in ten years, and I think any smart long-term planning needs to know what we’re going to talk about in the future.”

Hartmann says both sides will need to talk about the scope of such a review before anything begins.

Commissioner Todd Portune says the review is a reasonable request.

“From where I sit, it’s a first class, state of the art facility that is a great place to host NFL events and other events. So I think we just need to touch base and make sure everyone’s in agreement that that is the case.”

Portune says any possible upgrades or renovations should only be approved if the county can afford them and they're beneficial to both sides.

The team and Hamilton County, which owns the stadium, have not always gotten along, but that has changed recently.

The county sued the Bengals twice over the terms of the lease, losing both times.

But Hartmann says when the two sides talk about this review, the conversation will be on better terms. 

“They’ve shared costs on a number of different items with us, on items that they necessarily would not have had to pay a dime for. Certainly, or more specifically, the scoreboard. We could have paid 100 percent of that and they came to the table and stepped up.”

Commissioner Todd Portune says the Bengals also waived veto power over height restrictions at the Banks, which helped lure GE's new operations center. 

“Whatever comes of this will be something that will only work if it works for both parties. And that means that if it involves new revenues that the Bengals receive revenue and so does the county.”

Portune says the county and the team must make sure the stadium meets everyone's needs.