Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Portune sets deadline for NFL

By William A. Weathers
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune made another appeal Monday to the National Football League to renegotiate the Paul Brown Stadium lease before he institutes legal action on Thursday.

"The League and the Bengals may avert litigation if we receive a meaningful reply by close of business, 5 p.m. E.D.T. on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2003," Mr. Portune wrote in a letter Monday to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

"Specifically, we need to know if the NFL and the Bengals will work with Hamilton County to obtain a G-3 stadium loan for Paul Brown Stadium and to modify the stadium lease."

If there is no response by the Wednesday deadline, Mr. Portune said, he will file either a petition for discovery or a taxpayers suit on Thursday.

That action needs to be taken, Mr. Portune said, to keep a promise to Hamilton County taxpayers that the tax would expire within 20 years. Current financial projections show the stadium debt and tax will continue for more than 35 years.

The goal can be reached through an $80 million loan from the league and $124 million in lease modifications, Mr. Portune said.

NFL officials had no response Monday.

E-mail bweathers@enquirer.com

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