Officials in Cincinnati are considering offering Bengals owner Mike Brown a year-to-year lease in exchange for his keeping the team in town while leaders work out the details for building stadiums for the football team and the Reds.
"That's a possibility," said David Krings, administrator of Hamilton County, Ohio, which includes Cincinnati.
County leaders last week unveiled plans to raise the sales tax from 5 1/2 percent to 6 1/2 percent to finance stadiums, cut property taxes and meet other county needs. The proposal is premised on the city agreeing to give the county millions of dollars worth of stadium-related revenues -- something city hall has balked at.
Brown has said he wants an agreement by Thursday or he will begin exclusive talks with Baltimore about moving his team here. Maryland Stadium Authority chairman John Moag has said he would talk with the team, but suspects it is using Baltimore to pressure Cincinnati.
Mayor Roxanne Qualls and Krings said the team has indicated it would settle for a year-to-year lease while the stadium financing is being worked out. The Bengals have another four years on their lease at Riverfront Stadium, but say the city has defaulted on an agreed-upon payment, rending the lease invalid.
A year-to-year option would save the team the cost of a lawsuit in the event it decides to move next year.
Brown has not publicly said if he would accept such a deal. "I think he is still willing to consider all reasonable proposals," a team spokesman said.