Make the Bengals pay their share

November 1, 2010

THE CINCINNATI Bengals came into the 2010 season with lofty expectations and playoff hopes. With just two winning seasons in the last 19, the "Bungals" are on the path towards epic failure once more.

However, the team has not had a regular season or postseason home game blacked out for local TV since November 9, 2003. The streak of 56 straight "sellouts" is a franchise record, having topped a streak of 43 straight sellouts between 1988-92.

This isn't because the team has been good enough to sellout its publicly financed stadium. Barring the home opener, or against rivals Pittsburgh or Cleveland or against last year's Super Bowl champ, many games have lots of open seats, with whole sections of the stadium bare.

How does this happen if it's a "sellout"? Cintas, Kroger, Local 12 news, Time Warner, and many more have consistently bailed out the Bengal franchise to the tune of thousands of dollars per game. With nearly 10 percent unemployed and the cheapest ticket to a game at $65 per game, it's no wonder why fans in Cincinnati can't afford to attend a game.

Why do these companies continue bailing out the Bengals? Well, it's a perfect place to wine and dine potential corporate clients and customers. Perhaps, instead of paying living wages or getting better health care packages for their workers, they might give them Bengals tickets. Some have a vested interest in the advertising that fans must endure during the broadcast.

Shamefully, this is another way to dishonor war veterans--by giving them tickets to an NFL game. Rather than assisting the hundreds of homeless veterans currently calling Cincinnati streets home, they get tickets to a game where feeding four people might cost you $100?

Corporations and corporate-minded sports franchises should be paying their fair share in taxes in Cincinnati. With the election season theme being a call for jobs, how many jobs could be provided with this extra ticket money? Why aren't these supposed "job creators" using these funds to do just that?

How many families could get a meal from the Free Store Food Bank with these ticket bailouts? How many houses could be erected for the homeless? What about scholarships for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth? Why is the city closing health care clinics only to pay a poorly performing NFL franchise to stay in town?

These are the type of questions that no one on the City Council is asking, nor will they. None of the establishment candidates can answer these questions.

So, this year, don't knuckle under. Send a message to the Republicans, to the Democrats and to Washington. Let them know that you're tired of being dragged to the right, that you want a progressive alternative. Vote on November 2 for Dan La Botz, Socialist Party candidate for the U.S. Senate.

You won't be alone. Cincinnati's CityBeat has endorsed him, and progressives around the state will be voting for the first Socialist candidate since 1936.
Shane Johnson, Cincinnati

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