Thursday, June 07, 2001

County approves deal over Bengals seats

Cost to taxpayers: $2.5 million maximum

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Disgruntled Bengals' fans can finally go back to just being upset at the team.

        Hamilton County commissioners approved a settlement Wednesday that will end a lawsuit brought by season ticket holders who paid for seats in specific sections of Paul Brown Stadium, but were given seats in less desirable areas.

        The settlement will cost taxpayers a maximum of $2.5 million.

        Fans in the lawsuit have the option to either take a partial cash refund and keep their seats, or change seats and get no money. Some fans can give up their seats for a full refund.

        The county will deposit its money into a settlement account. As fans are relocated, the county will get some of its money back.

        Taxpayers are footing the bill for the partial refunds. For fans who want a full refund, the county will pay the difference between the cost of the zones and the Bengals will pay the rest.

        If the county ends up paying more than the Bengals do, the team will pay to even things out.

        “This is about $1 million less than what we thought the worst-case scenario would be,” said Carl Stich, a chief assistant prosecuting attorney. “And we think it will be even less than that.”

        Commissioner Todd Portune voted against the settlement after his attempt to change it failed. He wanted the Bengals to pay more if they have a poor record this year.

        “I want a performance clause,” Mr. Portune said.

        “It's a cute idea,” Commissioner Tom Neyer said, before voting against it.

        Mr. Neyer — the only commissioner in favor of the deal from the start, said it's about time.

        “At long last, we may be able to do right by the seat holders in a way that is equitable to taxpayers,” he said.


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