Seat-location issues at Paul Brown Stadium have been a major news focus recently. Today, Bengals.com is offering readers the Bengals' perspective.
"We don't believe that our position, or even all the pertinent facts, have been fully conveyed to the public," said Jack Brennan, Bengals public relations director. "We believe there are misconceptions about what happened and about where money was paid. We ask only that people consider what we are presenting."
Troy Blackburn, Bengals director of business development, discussed why some fans have complained about their seat locations.
"The short answer," Blackburn said, "is that the original sales brochure for Charter Ownership Agreements (COAs) included a very preliminary design of the stadium."
Hamilton County, which sold the COAs and took in the proceeds, mailed original sales brochures in late 1996, when stadium design was still in its early stages.
"The brochure was as accurate as possible at that time," Blackburn continued, "but it was produced before the actual seating bowl design had been completed. It was widely reported at the time that the design was preliminary. This was a reality of the financing and construction timetable. For the project to move forward, COA money was needed before the stadium's design was final."
Blackburn pointed out that the original sales brochure, produced by the
County in 1996, shows 49 sections in the lower seating bowl. But design revisions ultimately left the bowl with 40 sections.
"Because the number of sections went down, the width of each section increased," Blackburn said. "The COA zones, which each included several sections, got a little wider as well. And when the center zone gets wider, the zones to its sides are pushed closer to the goal lines."
Therefore, some fans have found that their seats are closer to the goal than they would have thought possible, based on the zone boundaries printed in the original brochure.
"Some fans clearly were charged a different price than what the original brochure would have indicated," Blackburn said. "It's only fair that they be refunded the difference between the two zone prices."
No similar design change occurred on the stadium's Canopy (upper deck)
or Club levels.
Regarding reports that have questioned whether the Bengals should
pay for any differences, Blackburn said:
"When the County launched the COA program, its goal was to raise $20 million net of expenses. In fact it realized $24.5 million after expenses. That was all money the County received, not the Bengals.
"Where adjustments for individual fans are warranted, they are warranted because people paid too much to the County for their locations, and those adjustments should come from the proceeds that were paid in."
The Bengals have developed and announced a program to help relocate all
COA holders who are dissatisfied with their seats. Implementation of that program was delayed, however, at the urging of the plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit on the seat location issues.