Saturday, May 17, 2003

Bengals, league sued over PBS



By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune sued the Bengals and the National Football League on Friday, claiming the league violated federal antitrust laws when it "extorted" more than $450 million from taxpayers to build Paul Brown Stadium.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, accuses the NFL of using a monopoly over professional football to secure favorable stadium deals from Cincinnati and other communities.

The suit claims the NFL has misled the public about the economic condition of its franchises and has used the threat of relocating those franchises to win huge concessions from local officials and, ultimately, from taxpayers.

Portune is seeking damages of more than $200 million on behalf of county taxpayers and seeks to triple those damages if a judge finds the NFL violated federal antitrust rules.

"The NFL's antitrust violations forced Hamilton County to pay ... far more to build Paul Brown Stadium and to agree to more onerous lease terms to keep the Bengals in Cincinnati," the lawsuit states.

Bengals and NFL officials could not be reached for comment late Friday.

Portune's claims center on Hamilton County's lease with the Bengals, which critics say stuck taxpayers with millions in cost overruns while giving the team too much control over development around the stadium.




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