Cincinnati Needs A New Arena

A local tourist bureau head wants the city to build a 21st century state-of-the-art venue.

Cincinnati is not on the list of cities that would be a good fit for a National Basketball Association or a National Hockey League franchise. The NBA’s Cincinnati Royals franchise was relocated to Kansas City in 1972 and the World Hockey Association’s Cincinnati Stingers franchise did not make the cut when the NHL took in four WHA teams in 1979. There are a number of factors that make Cincinnati undesirable for either the NBA or the NHL. Market size is one as the television market is quite small and until regional sports networks are obsolete or all go bankrupt, there is still money to be had from regional sports networks. Cincinnati is a small market and there is not much corporate money available with MLB’s Reds and the NFL’s Bengals businesses getting most of the available sports spending corporate dollars. Then there is the problem of the 1970s-era arena in town. That building is not suitable for today’s NBA or NHL.

But Jeff Berding, the Chair of Visit Cincy, wants to do something about the arena problem. Berding wants to build a new structure although he has no idea how much a new venue would cost or who would be paying for the structure. In the Cincinnati market, local politicians are trying to placate Bengals’ owners Mike Brown in an effort to keep him in town once the Bengals’ stadium lease expires in 2026. Bending is upset because the old arena to him means, “we’re losing out on March Madness. We’re losing out on concerts. We’re losing out on political conventions.” March Madness or the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament is about a five-day affair once every few years, political conventions happen every four years. Concerts are hit and miss. Bending acknowledges there is no arena plan and that needs to change.

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Cincinnati has been bypassed by the NCAA for regional games.