By GEOFF HOBSON
In sharply rebutting a published report, the Bengals said today they have no intention of leaving Cincinnati if they aren't allowed to operate Paul Brown Stadium. The club said it never issued a threat to move, and the only intent of its lawsuit against Hamilton County is to have the club's lease with the county upheld.
Bengals lawyer Robert Stachler said his remarks Thursday during a hearing in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court were misinterpreted by a Cincinnati Post reporter. The club failed to get a temporary restraining order barring the county from opening up bids to manage the stadium. The Bengals argue their right to operate the stadium was secured in the May 27, 1997 lease.
When Judge John P. O'Connor asked Stachler what would happen if the county couldn't legally fulfill its commitment to let the Bengals run the stadium, Stachler said there could be a multitude of problems if the lease was voided.
Stachler said this afternoon that wasn't a threat to leave the city. It was merely a response to the judge's question that had been raised in the county's brief.
"We want to do the exact opposite," Stachler said. "We want to uphold the lease. Even if the stadium management provision isn't upheld, we go on and try to work things out. We have no intention of leaving and plan to be here for the next 26 years."
The Bengals said in a statement today, "The plain fact is that a voiding of the lease would legally leave the new stadium without a tenant. But this result would be against the Bengals' wishes, and the Bengals' acknowledgment of this fact, in response to a direct question from the court, should in no way be construed as a threat to leave Cincinnati."