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Team and County Scrimmage Over Stadium Rights

CINCINNATI (Jeff Hirsh) -- Paul Brown Stadium is not named after a bank.

It's not named after an insurance company, it's not named after a beer, and it's not named after a fast food snack.  It's named after one of the true legends of the game.

But when the game is money, the name could change: what's in a name?

Well, if the name if on the side of a National Football League stadium, potentially millions of dollars.  When this facility opened a dozen years ago, the Bengals paid Hamilton County, which owns the stadium, five million dollars to name the place for Bengals founder Paul Brown.

But now, the Bengals want the right to sell the rights.

Now this all started when the developer of The Banks Phase Two wanted to build eight feet higher than additionally planed.  The Bengals are allowed some say in the Banks development because of the sight lines to Paul Brown Stadium.  As soon as word came out that the developer wanted to build higher, the Bengals sent a letter to the county saying we want the rights back.

The county's response?

County Commission President, Chris Monzel, said, "No way. There's no way Hamilton County is going to give up any naming rights to Paul Brown Stadium.  We've given so much already as taxpayers in Hamilton County, as citizens that's the last thing we have to do is give up any leverage to possibly make money and help stabilize the stadium fund."

But the Bengals letter says there's a risk of a new 20 story building in the banks, 100 feet over the guidelines, not eight feet.  Plus, if the county were to sell the naming rights again, under a complicated formula the Bengals would get most of the money anyway and, "any value to the county was purely speculative."

Still, County Commissioners call this whole thing a negotiating ploy by the football team.

County Commission VP, Greg Hartmann, said, "And I hope that based on my comments and those of the other commissioners they'll reconsider their position. This is clearly a situation where taxpayers are not going to give the Bengals something additionally to let us have eight additional feet in private development. On its face it's really a ridiculous request."

While this dispute may sound like Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree in the NFC Championship game the Bengals and the county may be working cooperatively on something else.  Under their lease, the Bengals are due a new scoreboard and the county is supposed to pick up the entire tab, around ten million dollars, probably a little less.  But published reports have said the Bengals are willing to pick up 25 percent of the tab.

So the two sides can also play nice.  The Bengals team attorney will only tell Local 12 News, "We continue to have discussions on a range of issues between the county and the team."




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