BY GEOFF HOBSON
Bengals President Mike Brown feels his team's 2-7 record is a major reason Bob Bedinghaus lost his seat on the Hamilton County's Board of Commissioners in Tuesday's election.
Bedinghaus, architect of the 1996 half-cent county sales tax funding stadiums for the Bengals and Reds, became the first Republican to lose a commissioner's seat in the county since the Lyndon Johnson landslide of 1964 when Democrat Todd Portune beat Bedinghaus by five percentage points, 48-43.
Brown said Wednesday he had yet to speak to Bedinghaus because, "I'm probably the last person he wants to speak with. I feel badly. The way we have performed on the field, I think, is a significant reason he lost and it's tough."
Reached late Wednesday night, Bedinghaus said he didn't think the club's record mattered at the polls. While Bedinghaus took responsibility for the loss, he indicated what may have had an impact was the team's stance on exercising its rights in the stadium lease. Among those was the Bengals not allowing the Reds to put grass in Cinergy Field.
The Bengals argue they had no choice but to keep Astroturf in Cinergy in case they had to play games there while Paul Brown Stadium was finished. The mix of dirt and grass, the club said, would run the risk of being virtually unplayable if it rained.
"I'm not pointing fingers at anybody because our community is headed in the right direction," Bedinghaus said. "I wish Todd Portune the best. As a season-ticket holder, I certainly wish the Bengals the best and if Mike called, I'd certainly talk to him.
Continued from Homepage
"I knew I might have to pay for this risk down the line when I came up with the tax in 1995," Bedinghaus said. "I didn't get into politics because I wanted to keep a job. I wanted to make a difference in the community. I feel this riverfront development has put our community on the fast track for the future. And if the price is I have to step aside, I gladly pay the price."
Like many Americans, Brown was caught up in the closest presidential race in history Tuesday night and didn't go to bed until near dawn. Like many of his players, his thoughts were divided between football and history.
"It's something you'll tell your grandchildren," Brown said as he watched practice Wednesday. "Probably like Pearl Harbor, or when (John F.) Kennedy got shot. You'll remember where you were the night the president wasn't elected."
But Brown was hurt as he saw the race go against Bedinghaus. Taxpayers have been upset with the stadium lease the club negotiated with representatives of the commissioners and while Brown wouldn't comment on the fairness of how the issue has been portrayed, he admitted the Bengals' 2-7 record on Election Day helped doom Bedinghaus.
"It's a sharp disappointment," Brown said. "Bob has left his mark on this city and it's a good mark. It's one that he can be proud of.
"He made this community better," Brown said. "I respect him a lot as a person. . .You wonder. Winston Churchill won World War II and didn't win."
Brown wouldn't address questions on how Bedinghaus' loss may affect the club's internal matters. Brown prefers to wait until after the season to discuss operation of the club.
"When I'm walking on the riverfront in 20 years with my grandchildren," Bedinghaus said, "I'm going to be proud I had something to do with it. I think they will, too."