Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel is reporting this morning that the Wall Street Journal has proclaimed Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium the most publicly funded stadium project ever. The Journal reports that PBS has received $555 million dollars in public funding over the years, including recent improvements. This report will surely increase the already deep resent many Hamilton County residents and Bengals fans have toward Bengals owner Mike Brown.
You might remember Mike Brown's quasi-extortion of Hamilton County during the debate over building PBS. He along with several County leaders, especially County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus, who eventually went to work for the Bengals after losing re-election. The promise was increased revenue, exposure for the city, and most importantly, more wins. It hasn't exactly turned out that way.
The Bengals have averaged more wins in PBS over its 11 years than in the previous 11 year period… one more win. Since taking up shop in PBS in 2000, the Bengals have averaged 6.5 wins per season compared to the 5.5 in the years prior. Is this what Mike Brown was promising?
The WSJ reports that the debt service alone on PBS cost Hamilton County taxpayers $34.6 million in 2010, or roughly 16.4% of the county budget. How's that for economic impact? Hamilton County residents can rest in the knowledge that in 2010, the county spent twice as much money servicing the debt on Paul Brown Stadium as it did on projects for roads and bridges.
So Bengals fans, the next time you're getting your front end re-aligned from all the damage done by potholes, the next time you hear the county asking for a tax increase, the next time you hear about the county laying off workers, take solace in the fact that Paul Brown Stadium sits empty today down by the river. Bask in the glory of all those great Bengal victories and watch as the owners and players argue over how to divide up $9 billion.
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