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Blog: Fat-Cat Owner's Message to Bengals Fans: Pay Up

I don't live in Cincinnati, I'm not a fan of the Bengals, and I don't go for legally changing your name and then legally changing it back. And I'm pissed at the Bengals' owner, Mike Brown.

The NFL owners voted in May to relax the league's blackout rules, which previously required teams to sell out their stadiums in order to show games on television. Teams had until July 18 to announce whether they would take advantage of the new rule by dropping the threshold for televising home games to 85 percent of stadium capacity.

We're in a prolonged recession, and Hamilton County (where one in seven residents live below the poverty line) taxpayers built the Bengals and Reds their swanky new stadiums. But Brown is refusing to budge.

"We're going to stick with the old rule," he said this week. "What we want to see are sold-out houses, and we want the stadium full with 65,000-plus people. We don't want to get to just 85 percent or 55,000. If you think back when they passed the sales tax to finance the stadiums, they did it so people could come downtown to the stadiums and watch games. They didn't do it so people could sit at home and watch games on television. They could have done that without a new stadium. So I think it is best for us and when I look around the league I can see most teams staying with the old rule."

Brown's attitude, sadly, is typical of the league's fat-cat owners - you know, the self-made men who pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, aided by their socialist revenue-sharing plan and taxpayer-funded palaces. And, more than that, his team sucks. No wonder that, since its string of 57 consecutive regular-season and playoff sellouts, the team has sold out just two of their last 10 regular-season games at Paul Brown Stadium and, last season, averaged a league-low 49,251 fans, 75.2 percent of the stadium's capacity of 65,515.

Last December, the team lowered season-ticket prices for most of the upper deck. That's a start. The Bengals ought to give something back to the majority of its fan base - the people who paid for the stadium and who may not be able to afford season tickets - and let them see their team play. Getting better players might help, too.

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