The Cincinnati Bengals were so certain they would not sell out their home opener this Sunday that they announced the game would be blacked out a week in advance. The Bengals are coming off a 4-12 season and had their last four home games blacked out.
But what is particularly galling about the Bengals’ blackout is that the team benefited from what is widely considered to be one of the worst stadium deals for taxpayers in sports. Hamilton County picked up most of the tab and they are paying for it BIG TIME. Here’s how Field of Schemes author Neil de Mause put it: “The initial $280 million price tag ultimately swelled to $350 million (if you believe the Bengals), or $454 million (according to the county), or $555 million (according to Harvard stadium expert Judith Grant Long).”
In fact, the annual payments on the stadium debt are so bad, that last year Hamilton County ended up paying $34.6 million on the stadium, which equals 16.4% of the county’s budget. Guess what’s being cut instead? Funding for roads, facilities and social services.
This must read Wall Street Journal article on the situation concludes with some comments from a Cincinnati resident that illustrate exactly why the NFL’s blackout rule is so unethical:
Harold Flaherty, a former schoolteacher, says he is livid about the sports pact. “It staggers my imagination that we should pay for this,” he says. “I think it’s the dumbest thing we ever did.” Mr. Flaherty, 77, will pay about $240 more in property taxes this year due to the rollback.
Mr. Flaherty, a sports fan who voted against the stadium deal, says he doesn’t go to Bengals games. “I already give them money,” he says.
Tell the NFL to end its unethical and counterproductive blackout rule by signing the petition at Change.org.