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4saintspirit 06-27-2005 12:56 PM

Bengals lawsuit may help New Orleans
 
In the USA today sports section I read about the lawsuit against the Bengals. Apparently Cincy believes the Bengals lied about their profitability in getting them to build a new stadium. The court ruled (anti trust) that the NFL has 30 days to hand over audited financial statements for the last 15 years for every NFL team. If this stands up in the appeal maybe New Orleans can get the Saints financial information from Benson

WhoDat 06-27-2005 01:46 PM

RE: Bengals lawsuit may help New Orleans
 
Problem is, when a municipality hits, the team hits back. We'll see if the NFL is actually required to disclose the earnings information. I sure hope so. I can't imagine how all the Benson-lovers will react when it comes out that he's been in the top 10 in the league in earnings for years, but crying poor none the less. :)

'The Jungle' a mess, Bengals say in lawsuit


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Stadium concrete is crumbling, escalator not working

By Cindi Andrews
Enquirer staff reporter



Raul Puga of DC Byers works on the concrete Thursday around a drain on the Canopy Level at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Enquirer/TONY JONES
Paul Brown Stadium really is a jungle, to hear the Cincinnati Bengals describe their home in a lawsuit against Hamilton County commissioners.

The team says the riverfront stadium's club lounges are inadequately heated, the sound system is spotty, concrete is crumbling - one section of seating might even be unsafe - and one reversible escalator isn't usable at the end of games.

The bill to taxpayers to fix these and other conditions: about $15 million.

That's a different picture than the team paints in brochures and media guides of a home field the Bengals like to call The Jungle. Sales materials tout the Bengals' $455 million home as award-winning architecture and "the best setting for pro football in the country."

"We don't think there's an inherent contradiction between us being proud of the stadium and pointing up the issues that need to be addressed," team spokesman Jack Brennan said.

County officials say the team is making a federal case out of a few maintenance problems that are being fixed. The team raised its concerns about the condition of the stadium as part of its response to the county's $600 million federal lawsuit against the Bengals and the National Football League. County commissioners say team owners illegally used their monopoly power to get a new stadium out of Hamilton County in the mid-1990s.

The team denied the allegations and counterpunched that the county has failed to live up to its duties as the builder of the stadium. The Bengals said they had hoped to work out the problems but were forced to make legal claims because they were sued.

The team's most serious allegation about the stadium is that faulty construction of support columns for the seats in the north end zone led to water damage that "compromised the structural integrity."

Contractors didn't build and test the supports as they were supposed to, according to the Bengals, and the county has withheld the results of recent testing on the supports.

Assistant County Administrator Eric Stuckey flatly denied any safety risk. Some water damage to one support was fixed about a year ago at no cost to the county and an additional column was added as insurance, said Joe Feldkamp, the county's director of stadium operations.

"There is absolutely no way any of this is a structural issue," Stuckey said.

Other concerns are being addressed or already have been, county officials say. Concrete has been a problem since the stadium opened in 2000. The Bengals' lawsuit criticizes the county for taking a piecemeal approach to concrete and joint repairs, estimating that almost $5.9 million worth of work is needed now.

The county counters that its five-year, $3.5 million maintenance plan - including $500,000 worth of work that's under way - will keep the floor of the concourses and seating bowl in good shape.

Problems with the sound system - dead spots, big swings in the volume and garble - also date to the stadium's opening, the Bengals say. They would cost $400,000 to fix, according to the team.

"The sound system's terrible," agreed fan Deb Price of Mount Washington, a season-ticket holder. "You can't hear the announcer."

Price's biggest gripe is with the escalator. Paul Brown Stadium has five escalators. The long escalator on the northwest side of the stadium couldn't be used last year to carry fans down at the end of games because the small space at the bottom between the landing and the exit gates was a safety hazard.

It wasn't a big deal when the team was playing badly, Feldkamp said, because fans started trickling out long before the end of the game. The design flaw was exposed last year when the new and improved team drew larger crowds that caused a bottleneck at the end of games, Feldkamp said.

Said Price: "It is kind of annoying that we spent all that money and you can't get out of the stadium easily. It is an accident waiting to happen."

The Bengals say it would cost $4.2 million to fix the design.

The county agrees that the one escalator is a problem. But it disagrees about some other things. For example, the county says it fixed the heating problem in the lounges by adding more electricity so portable heaters can be used when needed. "It's fixed. That's done," Feldkamp said.

The biggest head-scratcher for the county is $100,000 for a "blimp chase'' that the Bengals say the county agreed to provide before construction began.

"I've been here for four years - since we opened - and nobody's ever mentioned a blimp chase," Feldkamp said.

What's a blimp chase? It's a communications setup that allows people in a blimp to talk with people on the ground. Blimps show up at some big games and take aerial pictures for TV.

The county might have to provide such a feature, Feldkamp said, "but let's use common sense. Do we really need it?"

http://www.enquirer.com/editions/200...alssuit29.html

WhoDat 06-27-2005 01:48 PM

RE: Bengals lawsuit may help New Orleans
 
The Bengals look to be in some trouble. Are there any wild cats out in LA?

A class action lawsuit has been filed against the Cincinnati Bengals on behalf of 5,000 Bengals club-seat license holders. The suit claims that when Paul Brown Stadium opened in 2000, fans paid $150 apiece for club-seat licenses and signed a form that gave them the right to buy season tickets for up to 10 years. The form stated that if the fans did not buy the tickets, they would lose their license. According to the suit, the team then sent out a second contract, which was not signed by the license-holders, requiring them to keep buying tickets until their agreement expires. The plaintiffs are seeking the right to give up these seats and avoid paying up to $2,150 per seat annually for football tickets they no longer want.

https://www.lawyersandsettlements.co...otball_tickets

WhoDat 06-27-2005 01:52 PM

RE: Bengals lawsuit may help New Orleans
 
FYI - any action in LA would have to come via the government... is there any doubt as to where it would come from? :)

A copycat lawsuit that was filed in Pittsburgh against the Steelers and the other 31 NFL teams on the heels of an identical taxpayer lawsuit against the Bengals and the league has been dismissed this week by a federal judge.

As in the suit in Cincinnati, Robert C. Warnock cited anti-trust violations in the building of Heinz Field and wanted damages (more than $200 million) and the nullification of the lease.

But U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti compared Warnock's status as a taxpayer to a fan unable to challenge a referee’s call. She also said she disagreed with U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel’s ruling in Cincinnati that a taxpayer could bring a suit. In Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the Sports & Exhibition Authority refused to join the suit. In Cincinnati, Hamilton County subsequently joined and then replaced the taxpayer in the suit.

“The taxpayer is entitled to bring suit for an injunction against a local government entity to challenge unlawful municipal expenditures,� Conti said in her ruling. “That relationship does not extend to permit municipal taxpayers to sue private defendants that receive government funds and to challenge the allegedly illegal actions of those private defendants.�

Euphoria 06-29-2005 09:45 AM

RE: Bengals lawsuit may help New Orleans
 
Thus... the state has nothing to sue Benson over. I do think thought the state itself has access to state tax records so I am sure they know what he brings in as far as the Saints go.

WhoDat 06-29-2005 10:30 AM

RE: Bengals lawsuit may help New Orleans
 
Well there are a number of potential causes of action that I can think of. I'm sure Scotty could add a few more.

First, if the Benson is lying on his taxes, that's accounting fraud and a whole slew of related charges. That's probably not happening.

Second, even if the State knows what the Saints make, they have no way of knowing what any other team makes. This is an important fact to note, b/c Tom Benson claims that the Saints are amongst the bottom of the league, and have been for a number of years. If this is, in fact, not the case, then it is at least a misrepresentation. If the State can show that Benson's claims that the Saints weren't profitable compared to other teams in the league was material to their decision to give the team subsidies, presently or previously, then the State could sue to recover the subsidies paid to the team, on the grounds that Benson's statements amount to material misrepresentations. Further, if the state could show that Benson knew his statements were false (he's the head of the NFL finance committee mind you), then it's a fraudulent misrepresentation. Fraud carries heavier penalties (potentially - e.g. administrative fines, punative damage awards, etc.), and possibly even criminal charges for defrauding State taxpayers.

Finally, it seems that the County in Ohio bringing this suit is arguing anti-trust considerations. L.A. could do the same, suggesting that the NFL is a monopoly that is "price-fixing" and/or extorting local governments by using it's power as a monopoly. Honestly, that is a potentially persuasive argument that could be very very damaging for the NFL and its owners.

Euphoria 06-29-2005 10:39 AM

RE: Bengals lawsuit may help New Orleans
 
Yeah I don't think Benson is defruading the state as for as taxes got that would would be real stupid on his part. I don't have a problem with him imbelishing certain facts/truths ect. I mean its done everyday, even by the 'government'. Its buisness. I can't blame a buiness person for trying to make a buck and if you can get someone to hand you money for nothing really then more power to you. I am not a taxpayer in Louisiana anymore but if I was I would be pressuring the state to work out a deal with him to keep from making those payments which will include a new stadium. I love the Dome... but seems that will be the victim in all this. I do not want nameing rights going to the SuperDome but I have no promplem with naming rights to the new one... generate some cash...

4saintspirit 06-29-2005 01:54 PM

Re: RE: Bengals lawsuit may help New Orleans
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Euphoria
Yeah I don't think Benson is defruading the state as for as taxes got that would would be real stupid on his part. I don't have a problem with him imbelishing certain facts/truths ect. I mean its done everyday, even by the 'government'. Its buisness. I can't blame a buiness person for trying to make a buck and if you can get someone to hand you money for nothing really then more power to you. I am not a taxpayer in Louisiana anymore but if I was I would be pressuring the state to work out a deal with him to keep from making those payments which will include a new stadium. I love the Dome... but seems that will be the victim in all this. I do not want nameing rights going to the SuperDome but I have no promplem with naming rights to the new one... generate some cash...

I think WhoDat's antitrust argument is the one to go with -- after all they are witholding superbowl consideration until a new stadium is built -- are trying to influence the Saints to move to LA -- all for the goal of either getting more concessions or a stadium or both. Seems to me since the Bengals won based on the fact that they built a new stadium under misrepresnetation the Saints could win the same for the monetary subsidies they paid Benson to date. Also -- who dat is exactly correct in the fact that Louisiana would be able to see not only what the Saints made each year but what the other teams made -- and where he fit into the equation. One last point --- on the tax issue -- Benson has a lot of income besides the Saints -- plus the categories must be very complicated -- To find out how profitable the Saints were by looking at his taxes would take a team of accountants a long time Im sure

Tobias-Reiper 06-29-2005 03:58 PM

RE: Re: RE: Bengals lawsuit may help New Orleans
 
.. unfortunately, nothing is going to help New Orleans...

... I keep posting this in the form of a question, and people keep ignoring it...
.. it doesn't matter what happens today; the State may be able to come up with the 15,000,000 this year, maybe next year, maybe even 3 years for now, heck it may be able to come up with the money for the duration of the agreement... but guess what, in 3-4 years from now those 15,000,000 are just not going to cut it, even a new stadium is not going to cut it...

... in 3-4 years from now, unless the Saints win a couple of Super Bowls and get a lot of those country-wide bandwagon fans and Saints players start doing Chunky Soup commercials, Benson is going to need much more than 15,000,000 and a new stadium to keep up with the rest of the NFL, because the only source of revenue the Saints have (other than the NFL's revenue sharing ) is the same ol' fans who have followed their sorry behinds for decades... no new fans, no new money... simple as that...

Believe me, I don't want the Saints to leave N.O., but the reality is that even if the State agrees to whatever demands Benson has now, that is in no way any form of guarantee that the team will stay in N.O. for decades to come... it is just a stop-gap measure until the next meeting of the NFL's financial committee when the rest of the owners tell Benson he's not contributing his fair share to the revenue sharing plan...

Euphoria 06-29-2005 08:26 PM

RE: Re: RE: Bengals lawsuit may help New Orleans
 
Maybe why its being ignored is that there is a HUGE whole in your theroy... 1. The Saints are a profitable team. 2. The Saints survived 38-39 years without winning a Super Bowl and without a new stadium aside from the Super Dome itself. 3. New Saints fans are born everyday... I don't think you would find many who will argue that most Saints fan are born into this family of fans. 4. I can also argue Benson has turned this team around to a degree all you have to do is compare the win/lose record before and during Benson regin. 5. Revenue sharing is designed to have teams in smaller markets... you can't penalize a team being in say AZ and compete with teams like NY and Dallas. NFL is the product and the teams are just apart of it... and to keep these teams competitve you come up with revenue sharing. 6. I don't think you will find many owners who does not want a team in New Orleans... its a fun place and they like having the Super Bowl there. I seriously don't think you'll find a vote to move the Saints, I don't buy that at all. Saints are not moving, Benson is keeping them there and turning the team over to his grand-daughter. The NFL will step in and solve things soon enough or Benson waits and gets his own govenor elected, lol.


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