Number of blackouts in 2012:
Even with two playoff appearances in the past two years, quarterback Andy Dalton hasn't quite convinced fans that his team is just as worthy of their investment as the Carson Palmer/Chad Johnson teams of the recent past.
The Bengals have blacked out a dozen games over the past three years. Though the product on the field hasn't exactly motivated a buying spree, issues with Bengals management and owner Mike Brown have played a role in keeping seats empty.
The team threatened to move in 1995 if it didn't get a new stadium, which ended up costing Hamilton County, Ohio, $540 million. That debt climbed as the recession deepened, expanding to a $30 million budget deficit last year alone. Add annual stadium costs to taxpayers that rose from $29.9 million in 2008 to $34.6 million in 2010 and sales tax revenue that's declined steadily since 2000 and you get crushing debt that eliminates funding for programs such as a juvenile court and rolls back the property tax cut promised as part of the stadium deal.
Ownership continues to discuss renovations and more potential tax-sucking projects, and winning doesn't always solve that. Just ask Atlanta Falcons fans who watched their team walk through the regular season to a spot in the NFC Championship game, only to have ownership hit them up for a few hundred million dollars and a new building.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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