December 20, 2014

The Bengals are not the reason Hamilton County has no cash

So the title of the article on Cincinnati.com is:  Bengals want more county concessions.  Really, what the article actually states is sensationalist reasoning to garner more traffic by picking on a common enemy.

Let’s look at the article FJM style:

Barely a month after agreeing to a deal to help cover a shortfall in the fund paying for the riverfront stadiums, the Bengals are demanding more concessions from Hamilton County.

WDF Take: So wait, what was the agreement?  The deal was never signed on both sides so how can this really be a deal? Also, wasn’t this deal made necessary because the Bengals and Reds have agreed to cover the County’s shortfall in budget the next two years? So isn’t it really the Bengals and Reds making concessions and not the county?

 

As a result, county officials may need to find a new way to fill a hole in the stadium fund – a hole they thought they’d filled with a deal Dec. 1 that was years in the making and was hailed as historic.

WDF Take: You said it here, their hole. Not the Bengals or Reds hole, it is the county and the failure to budget or know how much money you have. The Bengals and Reds could have told the county to take a hike. How many other major corporations in Cincinnati came to the aid of the county? How many others are made concessions to stay?

 

The county’s deal with the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals still isn’t signed, according to Hamilton Administrator Patrick Thompson. Earlier this week he and representatives for the Bengals downplayed the lack of signatures as legal issues that wouldn’t upset the deal.

WDF Take: Yeah, those signatures are just after thoughts, shoot, my mortgage papers were never signed and the bank just said forget about it. It is not really a deal until it is inked.

 

But, the Enquirer has learned the Bengals are asking for more concessions from the county that are worth between $40 million and $70 million. The additional demands are likely to kill the deal or at the very least require further board approval.

“It’s déjà vu all over again,” said Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, the only one of the three commissioners to vote against the deal. “I tried to warn David (Pepper) and Greg (Hartmann) not to rush into a deal like this, but we’re seeing what happens with these 11th hour agreements.

WDF Take: You know why you are forced to rush into a deal like this? Because you rushed into so many other stupid deals in the past. Again, you cannot fault the Bengals and Reds for asking for something when they are the ones making concessions.

 

“Even though I didn’t like the original deal, the fact is the Bengals need to do what they originally agreed to do and stop trying to beat up their favorite opponent.”

WDF Take: You mean like using the public displeasure against Mike Brown in the media to try and sway public opinion away from the fact that the county has made the mistake and dug the hole?  Yeah, lets blame it on Mike Brown.  We could also blame him for the snow storm and the windstorm. Both would make as much sense.

 

Part of what the Bengals are asking for is a new scoreboard and a promise that they can stay in Cincinnati for up to 20 years after the current lease expires in 2026. During the extra 20 years, the county would continue to pay for the upkeep of the facility.

WDF Take: Again, the Bengals are asking for something to offset the money they are giving right now. It wouldn’t be much of a deal if there was not give and take.

 

The county has not responded to a public records request made Wednesday by The Enquirer for all documents related to the on-going talks.

The Bengals’ director of development, Bob Bedinghaus, insisted earlier this week the deal would go forward without problems. Asked why the deal hadn’t been signed, he said there were some technicalities to work out.

Hamilton County commissioners on Dec. 1 committed to a two-year solution to the deficit in the fund. That decision meant homeowners would pay more money in property taxes, but also that the Reds and Bengals would help cover the shortfall.

WDF Take: So the people of Cincinnati and the two businesses are making up for the county’s shortfall. If only there were other ways to generate revenue, if only there were other businesses with crazy deals to stay in Cincinnati that could be addressed. By the way, how are those streetcars coming?

 

Under the agreement, the average Hamilton County homeowner will pay $80 more in property taxes. In turn, the Reds and Bengals agreed to pay a combined $9.6 million in rent over the next five years – as opposed to nothing, which the original lease calls for in 2011 to 2015.

The Bengals will pay $7.4 million; the Reds, $2.2 million.

WDF Take: Wow, so the Bengals that use the stadium far less than the Reds are willing to pony up three times as much? did this article call out the Reds? Nope, just the Bengals. Serves you right Mike Brown for making yourself such an easy target.

 

The teams benefited in other ways.

For the Bengals:

– The plan included a $1 million credit against those lease payments for a new playing field. The original lease calls for the county to make all capital improvements to the stadiums. Recently, the stadium fund woes have meant the teams have had to pay for some of those themselves.

– The team now has exclusive naming rights to Paul Brown Stadium. That’s potentially lucrative for the team if they can find a sponsor and means little for the county, which under the original lease would see little – if any – profit from naming rights.

– The team is guaranteeing the county $150,000 a year in revenue from other events, like concerts and monster truck rallies. That’s about what it has made each of the last 10 years. But after that, for the rest of the lease, all revenue over that amount goes to the team. Previously, the team and the county shared those profits equally.

For the Reds:

– The county currently makes 25 cents on every ticket sold. Beginning in 2016, the team gets to keep that surcharge on all tickets over 1.75 million sold. The team currently sells about 1.9 million tickets a season. So that’s a deal worth about $37,500 a year.

WDF Take: For those not the best at math, the Reds deal is taking about a half a million dollars a year away from the county while they only ponied up 2.2 million? Who is the bigger Grinch here?  Oh yeah, Mike Brown because the Bengals stink right?

 

Additional surcharges on Reds and Bengals tickets, long talked about as part of the plan, are not included.

Under the terms of the original leases, the teams didn’t have to help fix the stadium fund.

The plan was to have solved the deficit for two years – making up the $16 million next year and the $32 million needed in 2012 – and by doing so, lessens the long-term deficit projection.

WDF Take: So the plan is necessary to help the county with its deficit, the Bengals and Reds could have done nothing. The people in the wrong here is the county, and if you are in the finger pointing game, the voters who approved this deal long ago.

Look, Mike Brown is not good at running the football team, no arguments here. However, he is a hell of a business man. It would make the most business sense for him to tell the county to take a hike, the fact that he is making any concessions at all is a bonus to the county and their failure to manage their money.

Still that being said, the Bengals need to fire Bob Bratkowski.