BY GEOFF HOBSON
TAMPA, Fla. _ The Bengals and other NFL clubs said Tuesday holding some tickets for the team's general use is common practice throughout the league.
Troy Blackburn, the Bengals director of business development, said the team set aside about 2,100 tickets for home and visiting players and coaches, team employees, the networks, and sponsors.
The Bengals said they were surprised by Tuesday's report in The Cincinnati Enquirer that characterized nearly 3,000 tickets at Paul Brown Stadium as "hidden."
"They certainly weren't hidden," Blackburn said. "It was agreed upon after a review by the team and Hamilton County. They weren't all prime seats. They were scattered throughout the stadium."
The paper referred to a memo in which the club pondered setting aside 2,500 preferred seats for luxury suiteholders. But Blackburn said the Bengals never acted on the plan in the memo.
Blackburn estimated the club set aside about 500 tickets each for the home and visiting players and coaches. Kevin Byrne, vice president of public relations for the Ravens, said his club sets aside about 600 each for the home and away teams at Baltimore's 69,084-seat PSINet Stadium.
"It doesn't sound like the Bengals are out of line at 2,100," said Byrne during Super Bowl Media Day here Tuesday at Raymond James Stadium.
Raymond James has nearly the same capacity as Paul Brown Stadium with 65,600 seats. Mike Newquist, the Buccaneers' director of tickets, said the Bucs have also put aside about 2,100 seats.
"There's actually contracts between the visiting teams and the networks in which the home team is responsible for fulfilling," Newquist said.