July 26, 2017

Why Boycotting the Bengals Won’t Work

Empty seats won't sway Mike Brown or his bottom line that much.

As Cincinnati heads into a home game with the Colts, one of the interesting subplots to the game will be the number of people in the stands. Once again, the game will not be sold out and will be blacked out locally for the third time this season. In the previous games, the Bengals have had about 20,000 empty seats in each contest. That’s a huge number. Certainly some of those people simply can’t afford tickets in today’s economy. And others are undoubtedly boycotting the team.

But those methods won’t work. According to statistics compiled by Forbes that were published in ESPN’s franchise ranking issue, the Bengals made about $49 million in profits last year. Think about that for a second. That’s a huge profit margin that will not be easily affected.

Even if ticket sales are down, even if people aren’t buying as many T-shirts, or hot dogs, or beer, Mike Brown will still make money. Brown might have his flaws as an owner, but he’s a genius when it comes to the business side of things. And he runs the Bengals with such stripped-down operations that boycotting the games might lower his profits, but they won’t eliminate them.

Even if a stadium is 2/3 full and Brown ends up with onlyy 2/3 of his profits from last year, he’s still taking home plenty of cash.

So my advice is this: if you want to attend the games, go!

Because boycotting them won’t make much of a difference.


  1. I think this was proven during the lost decade where every year the Brown family showed a profit with those lousy seasons and decade of blackout games. I don’t think most are people boycotting I think most didn’t want to waste money on football when there was no grantee of a season 4 months ago. That combined with the job market in Cincy is a killer. It won’t happen but an olive branch of buying out the tickets from Brown or corporate sponsor would be huge. They could then tarp the seats with ads to make money like Jacksonville did. This won’t happen but one can hope. For a football nut town like Cincy i think it’s fair.

  2. Based on TV ratings, we know for a fact that the interest is there. While the cost of tickets can be prohibitive for many, I think there are other factors contributing to this perfect storm as well. 1) People are reluctant to buy in until they see success. And that may extend into 2012. If this year’s team finishes around 8-8, sales will go up next year but won’t sell out on season tickets. If they have a winning record again in 2012, I think then you’ll find plenty of people “discover” the money for tickets no matter what the economy is like. 2) While being at the game is a lot of fun, there is a lot of baggage with going too. Ticket costs, parking and extortion-priced concessions are going to run you at least $200 for a couple of not-very-good nosebleed seats. Then you have to deal with the drunk idiots in the row behind you, getting beer spilled on you, constantly letting in/out of their seats, yada-yada. It’s not enough of a positive, fun experience to spend that kind of money, especially when you aren’t even sure you’ll see a win.