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Cincinnati council to vote today on stadium deal for Bengals


The Cincinnati City Council is scheduled to vote this afternoon on an agreement with county officials to build stadiums for the Reds and Bengals, which, if passed, effectively would eliminate any chance the Bengals would move to Baltimore.

Hamilton County commissioners agreed a week ago to raise the sales tax from 5 1/2 percent to 6 1/2 percent to fund the $540 million project, but had demanded concessions from the city which the city opposed.

Marathon negotiations ended early yesterday morning with an agreement for the county to fund and own the stadiums, but allow the city to retain some of the stadium tax proceeds the county had sought. The city will turn over to the county control of a regional sewer district and the county and city will work together to find $10 million a year in additional funding for city schools.

City Council members discussed the tentative deal yesterday, but deferred a vote until today. Some council members are vowing to propose alternatives, such as a smaller, stadium-only tax increase, or a provision that the tax increase be put to an automatic referendum.

Bengals owner Mike Brown gave community leaders until 5 p.m. today to reach agreement, or, he said, he would negotiate exclusively with Baltimore. The Maryland Stadium Authority has agreed to build a stadium adjacent to Oriole Park for a team willing to move here.

Brown would not comment on the deal yesterday, but said through a spokesman that he "continues to be encouraged by the progress being made."

Assuming all agreements hold up, the Bengals' stadium will be open for play in the year 2000, Hamilton County administrator David Krings said. A target date for the Reds' stadium has not been set.

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