Thursday, May 24, 2001

Seat suit over; team splits cost

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The lawsuit filed by Bengals fans unhappy with their seats in Paul Brown Stadium appears to be over.

        An agreement was reached late Wednesday, after Bengals officials assured Hamilton County Commissioner John Dowlin that they would pay at least as much as the county toward seat relocations and refunds aimed at ending the lawsuit.

        Mr. Dowlin is the swing vote on the issue and had insisted on at least equal payments.

        But there are so many variables that accurately calculating the contributions from each side was impossible: Fans can change seats and get no refund, keep their current seats and get a partial refund from the county, or give up their seat licenses and get a full refund with the county and the team each paying a portion.

        Further complicating the matter, the fans eligible for a full refund can give up their licenses now or at the end of the 2001 season. Late Wednesday, with a need to finish the seat relocation program before the start of the season, the Bengals agreed to pay at least half.

        “If, after all the terminations have been processed next year, the county is shown to have contributed more than the Bengals toward the settlement, then the Bengals will make a further contribution,” Troy Blackburn, the team's director of business development, said in a letter to the county.

        Most recent figures show each side would contribute $2.2 million if 20 percent of eligible fans relocate and 10 percent give up their licenses at the end of the season.

        But that number could vary wildly depending on which options fans decide upon. A hearing is scheduled for this afternoon before Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman, where fans will be allowed to voice their sentiments on the settlement.


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