Thursday, April 26, 2001

Commissioners balk at seat-license deal

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County commissioners won't approve settling a lawsuit with disgruntled Bengals fans until they know what it will cost.

        Because there was no clear answer Wednesday, they'll wait until May 7 to decide whether to sign off on a proposed settlement that could cost taxpayers upwards of $3 million.

        Fans in the lawsuit have until May 1 to respond to a questionnaire asking them whether they want a full refund, partial refund or a new seat. The responses will be used to determine how much the deal will cost the county and the team.

        Commissioners will get that news May 7. A court hearing is scheduled for the next day.

        The lawsuit claims that some fans who purchased seat licenses for Paul Brown Stadium specific zones got less expensive seats.

        In part, the settlement would force the county to refund the difference between the seating zone for which fans paid and the price of the zone in which they were seated. The county also would pay 10 percent interest on that money.

        The Bengals would pay $125,000 to a settlement fund.

        Fans also could give up their licenses for a full refund if they were seated in a section they did not state as a preference.

        Commissioner Todd Portune wants the Bengals to split the differential payments with the county and pay for everything else; John Dowlin wants a 50/50 split between the county and the team. Tom Neyer thinks the deal as proposed is fine.

        Two commissioners have to agree on a settlement.


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