Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, Bengals Ownership Playing The Stadium Game

The Bengals’ lease ends in 2026.

The time has come for the city of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio and the National Football League’s Cincinnati Bengals’ ownership to discuss what their next step is in making sure Bengals’ football stays in Cincinnati beyond the expiration of the lease agreement that ties the team to Cincinnati through 2026. Will Cincinnati and Hamilton County agree to renovate the present facility? Will Cincinnati and Hamilton County build a new facility or will Bengals’ ownership look for greener pastures? It is too early in the stadium game to get a definitive answer but the clock is ticking. 2026 in the stadium game is around the corner. The Bengals’ executive vice president Katie Blackburn may not be seeking a new facility, at least not at the moment.  “I think we have a great stadium. Our stadium has been a great asset to the area, and we think if we can keep it up to a certain level, it can serve us well for a while longer. It’s a big project.”

But local politicians might be thinking about a different approach. Why not build a new stadium? Hamilton County Commissioners have requested Gensler Sports to come up with a new stadium plan in the list of possible solutions to the Bengals’ problem. The commissioners want more than a dozen Bengals’ games a year in the building. Gensler Sports’ initial estimate to renovate the 23-year-old stadium came in at around a half billion dollars. At one time going to the game was the selling point of sports but that does not seem to be the case anymore. Tom Gabelman, project counsel for Hamilton County said of the Bengals’ stadium, “Within five, six years, you will have been eclipsed by every other NFL stadium and the fans are not going to enjoy the experience.” A game is not enough.

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Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) and Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) motion for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter of an NFL division round football game, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)