Thursday, March 29, 2007

I'm buried.

But allow me to post this column by Paul about the silliness that is the Cincinnati Bengals.


Too much isn't enough for Brown

Here is something you might not have known: It is difficult to be one of 32 monopolists in the most successful, highly profitable league in the history of American sports. It is hard making ends meet in a free stadium that is absolutely filled every time it opens for an NFL game. You think it's easy, scraping by on the proceeds from $8 bottles of beer?

While owners of 30 of the NFL's 32 teams on Monday agreed to share even more money among themselves, Bengals owner Mike Brown voted against it. (The other no vote came from Jacksonville's Wayne Weaver.) It isn't that the Bengals aren't profiting from revenue-sharing; it's that they aren't profiting enough.

The Cincinnati Bengals' logo should not be a tiger; it should be an outstretched hand, palm upturned.

Understand: This was a "supplemental" plan for revenue-sharing. This was sharing on top of sharing. Karl Marx's league just became more generous.

The Bengals don't even know yet how much extra money they'll get on top of the money they already get. All they know is, it's not enough. With the Bengals, it never is.

Because I am not an economist, a capologist or an expert on socialist corporations, maybe I'm not qualified to comment on the Bengals' ongoing cries of poverty. But here's what I do know about our starving little football team:

They sell every seat for every game.

They sell every luxury box, and they keep all the money.

They sell lots of $8 beers, and they keep most of the money.

They're the proud possessors of a Manhattan-for-beads lease that makes them lords of Cincinnati's central riverfront.

The public built them a $600 million stadium our children will be paying for.

And, oh yeah, they've had one winning season in 17 years.

Imagine another business in the free world complaining about this arrangement.

The Bengals' argument boils down to this:

The salary cap is based on a fixed percentage of what the NFL calls gross designated revenues. They come from the national TV contract, ticket and merchandise sales and local sources such as stadium naming rights and advertising. Because the Bengals are in the bottom third of revenues in the league, every time a Washington, New England or New York increases its revenues, the cap rises and the Bengals have to spend a greater portion of their revenues on salaries.

No one should fault Brown for getting the best deal he can. He has to answer to shareholders, even if most of them are related to him. He also feels he has legitimate issues about the long-term financial health of his team.

But consider this:

The Bengals are privately owned. They don't show us their books. They say they're lagging financially and we have to take their word for it.

The list of people sharing in their "poverty" is very short.

If you choose to own a team in a place like Cincinnati, don't expect to make the kind of cash you would in New York. Some owners aren't as wealthy as others, if only because they're located in smaller places and/or they don't work as hard.

So it is that Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, whose team plays in a relatively new stadium that was not publicly funded, gives some of his revenues to an owner like Mike Brown, who has a free stadium. So it is that Jerry Jones, who worked hard to revive the Dallas Cowboys brand, shares equally his merchandise revenues with Brown, who works not at all selling his.

So it is that on Monday, the 15 biggest revenue producers voted to give even more money to the 17 smallest revenue producers. Everyone but Brown and Weaver was fine with that. Again: Fifteen owners agreed to write checks, and two owners said the checks won't be big enough.

Even if I agreed with the Bengals' position that they're heading toward the financial rocks, their constant more-more-more-ing after so much public generosity, faith and good will - and in an industry subsidized like few others, even if you stink - makes me want to lie down in a cool place.

The Reds don't receive nearly the shared revenues the Bengals do. I don't hear Bob Castellini complaining.

All Content Copyright Iggy 2003-2007
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