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Paycor Stadium History | Cincinnati Bengals -


The River's Roar | The History of the Cincinnati Riverfront

Learn more about the history of Cincinnati professional football and the development of Paycor Stadium. This video was created by The Banks Public Partnership.

Paycor Stadium History Timeline


On the civic side, 1970 was the debut season for Cincinnati's dual-sport downtown stadium, which would be the Bengals' home through 1999. It was announced on Jan. 9 that the facility was officially named "Cincinnati Riverfront Stadium," but in popular usage the name soon became just "Riverfront Stadium." Though seating capacity for football varied, due to whether the Reds' home baseball season was still on, the new stadium roughly doubled the capacity of Nippert Stadium. The Bengals first played at Riverfront on Aug. 8, defeating Washington in a preseason game. The first regular-season game was on Sept. 20, a 31-21 win over Oakland, with QB and future Bengals head coach Sam Wyche scoring the new facility's first regular-season football points, on a five-yard TD run in the first quarter. The club averaged 58,251 home attendance in the regular season. The baseball Reds had begun their tenure at Riverfront with a game vs. Atlanta on June 30.


The difficult road toward the eventual 2000 completion of Paul Brown Stadium began in earnest in November of '93. At that time, Bengals president Mike Brown, with support from NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, sounded the call that Riverfront Stadium had become economically obsolete in the changing world of pro football. Brown warned that absent real progress on improving the Bengals' stadium situation, the club might be forced to consider moving. The first step toward a solution came in December, when the club agreed to stay at least through 1998, in exchange for a deal to partially renovate Riverfront and amend the team's lease. It was also stated that civic leaders would explore construction of a new stadium by the "early 2000s."


Much debate and some controversy continued through the year as the Bengals and baseball's Reds negotiated with Cincinnati leaders about the need for a new stadium, or even two. As co-tenants with the Bengals at Riverfront, the Reds balked at parts of an agreement the Bengals had reached in 1993 for interim improvements at Riverfront, and in an attempt to resolve issues, a city/county Stadium Task Force was formed, led by Cincinnati mayor Roxanne Qualls and Hamilton County Commission president Guy Guckenberger. The Bengals meanwhile agreed to share the cost of major improvements to Spinney Field, the team's city-owned practice facility.


The year of 1995 was filled with issues regarding the Bengals' need for a new stadium. A lack of progress on the local front led club president Mike Brown to explore the possibility of a move to Baltimore, pressed by a deadline on Baltimore's end. But Brown repeatedly professed he had no desire to move the team unless forced to by an untenable local situation. On June 28, just minutes before a Bengals-set deadline, Cincinnati City Council voted 5-4 to approve a Hamilton County plan from Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus to raise the county sales tax by one percent to fund two new stadiums. In the end that proposal was scaled down to a one-half percent hike, funding stadiums and also providing homeowners with property tax relief. But after the County Commission voted to implement the tax, forces opposed to the increase successfully petitioned to make approval subject to a public referendum to be held in March of 1996. In October, Mike Brown announced that the Bengals for 1996 would move most of their front-office operation from Riverfront Stadium to the team's new practice facility building at Spinney Field.


Progress continued to be forged on the Bengals' efforts to secure their future in Cincinnati with a new stadium. The biggest step came on March 19, when Hamilton County voters approved by 61-to-39 percent a measure to fund new Bengals and Reds stadiums with a half-cent sales tax increase. The vote came after vigorous public debate, and the Cincinnati Post termed it a "landslide victory" for backers of the issue. On Sept. 10, the Bengals reached preliminary agreement with Hamilton County on a 30-year lease, for an as-yet unnamed and un-sited stadium. The Bengals pushed vigorously for a riverfront site, opposing proposals to build in the Broadway Commons area just northeast of downtown. Both public polls and experts' recommendations indicated a preference for a riverfront site, but the question remained undecided as the year ended. The new stadium's name also remained undecided, but early public response showed strong support for naming it after Bengals founder Paul Brown. On Sept. 9, Riverfront Stadium was re-named Cinergy Field, as the energy utility Cinergy reached a $6 million naming rights deal with Hamilton County to cover the stadium's remaining years of use.


On Feb. 13, the Bengals and Hamilton County reached tentative agreement on a western riverfront site for a new football stadium. The Bengals yielded to County wishes for a site one block farther west than the club's preferred spot, supporting the goal of opening central riverfront space for development of other attractions and neighborhoods between a football and a baseball stadium (though the baseball site had yet to be agreed upon.). A drawback for the development of the more western football site was that some of the needed land was not owned by the county, and that would lead to future delays, as well as higher costs than the Bengals' preferred site. On May 29, the 30-year Bengals lease was completed and signed. It was announced on May 29 that the facility would be named Paul Brown Stadium, with the Bengals agreeing to cover $5 million for the loss of potential corporate naming rights. On April 29, the Bengals received a favorable ruling in a tax case that had threatened the viability of the franchise. In United States Tax Court in Chicago, Judge John O. Colvin ruled that the heirs of the late Paul Brown were not liable for $40 million sought by the Internal Revenue Service, due to a dispute over Paul Brown's acquisition of team shares held formerly by John Sawyer. The Cincinnati Enquirer editorial page opined that the Bengals had been spared an unfair "ambush by the IRS." The football team opened training camp in a state-of-the-art new facility at Georgetown (Ky.) College, after 29 seasons of training at Wilmington (Ohio) College.


Plans for the Bengals' new stadium hit a serious snag in January of '98, due to a dispute between Hamilton County and the city over the county acquiring 12.5 acres of city land that it needed to build at its preferred western riverfront site. As the stalemate dragged on, the Bengals announced that if no agreement was reached by Jan. 31, the club would no longer be bound by the lease it had signed in spring of 1997. Tension continued to build until, at 1:15 a.m. on Feb. 1, City Council forged a past-the-11th-hour agreement to accept a county proposal. On April 25, officials from the county, city and the Bengals joined in a public groundbreaking for Paul Brown Stadium construction, with plans for the facility to be ready for the 2000 season. The news on the field was not so encouraging, as the team dipped to 3-13 in its second full season under head coach Bruce Coslet.


For the first year since the idea's original proposal in 1993, plans for the Bengals' new stadium proceeded with only minor issues. The rise of the seating bowl of Paul Brown Stadium was watched by citizens throughout the year. However, past issues — particularly a delay in Hamilton County's acquisition of needed land from the city — put construction on a very tight schedule to meet the goal of an August, 2000, inaugural game.


The Paul Brown Stadium era began on Aug. 19, as the Bengals christened Cincinnati's new football showplace with a 24-20 preseason win over the Chicago Bears. WR Peter Warrick scored the first Bengals preseason points in PBS on a 14-yard end-around run in the first quarter. In the stadium's Grand Opening regular-season game Sept. 10 vs. Cleveland, before a Cincinnati sports record crowd of 64,006 (since surpassed by the Bengals).

The Denver game that season (October 22, 2000) was Cincinnati's first regular-season win at Paul Brown Stadium.


In their second season under head coach Marvin Lewis, the Bengals continued their rebuilding process, posting a second straight 8-8 record. All eight regular-season games at Paul Brown Stadium were sellouts — the first sold-out regular season since 1992 at Riverfront Stadium — and the total regular-season attendance of 524,248 put the team over the half-million mark for the first time.


In a Harris Interactive survey released in February, Paul Brown Stadium was the only football stadium to make a list of "America's Favorite 150 Buildings and Structures." PBS ranked 101st on the list, whose range included all manner of major structures, including skyscrapers, museums, churches, hotels and even bridges. (The Empire State Building ranked first). Among all sports venues, only Wrigley Field (31) and the old Yankee Stadium (84) ranked higher than PBS.

In Oct. 28 vs. Pittsburgh, the team established a franchise record for single-game attendance, recording a figure of 66,188. That number stands through 2017 as the largest crowd ever to attend a sports event in Cincinnati, and other Bengals crowds at Paul Brown Stadium more than fill out the other spots on the all-time Cincinnati top 10.


On April 17, the club continued its leading role in development of the Cincinnati downtown riverfront, announcing an agreement with Hamilton County that helped pave the way for General Electric to bring a major office facility to the emerging Banks neighborhood between Paul Brown Stadium and the Reds' Great American Ball Park. Fans at home games in 2014 enjoyed the benefits of the first state-of-the-art WiFi system throughout PBS.


On August 9, 2022, the home of the Cincinnati Bengals became Paycor Stadium. The Bengals and Cincinnati-based Paycor HCM, Inc. ("Paycor") (Nasdaq: PYCR) expanded their partnership to include stadium naming rights, further strengthening their shared vision and commitment to the Cincinnati community and driving increased national awareness for both organizations. The deal with a local company fits the blueprint. Paycor's headquarters had been in Cincinnati for more than 30 years and for the past four years the human capital management firm had been the club's official and exclusive HR software provider. Like the Bengals, Paycor is seen as an ascending prime mover. It just ended its first year as a public company.

Fans broke an attendance record in the stadium on Thursday, September 29 2022 with 67,260 people in attendance of the Dolphins at Bengals game. The Bengals won 27-15.