Issue: Worst stadium deal in America
The last time the Bengals threatened to move in 1995, they told the folks in Hamilton County a new stadium would create jobs and bring boatloads of money into the area.
The county ponied up $540 million for Paul Brown Stadium without help from the state or any other willing donor and waited for the returns to roll in. They never materialized, and the recent recession turned all the stadium's modest benefits into hemorrhaging losses. Stadium debt created a $30 million budget deficit this year alone, while annual stadium costs to county taxpayers rose from $29.9 million in 2008 to $34.6 million in 2010.Sales taxes have sputtered over the past decade, enhancing that debt and eliminated funding for programs such as a juvenile court and a property tax cut promised as part of the stadium deal. Last year, the team sought $43 million from the county for stadium renovations despite blacking out 10 home games in the past two years. In fairness, the Bengals haven't threatened a move or even hinted at one. Still, when a team that made the playoffs last year asks for a multimillion-dollar handout from a cash-strapped county and doesn't get it, what's the next logical step?