The Cincinnati Bengals have agreed a revised lease deal with Hamilton County that will see the development of a new music venue near to Paul Brown Stadium and lead to the NFL American football franchise committing their future to the facility and the city.

The 65,500-seat Paul Brown Stadium opened in August 2000 as part of a major regeneration project for the Cincinnati riverfront on the River Ohio. Scheduled to run through 2026, the terms of the lease deal had created headaches for both parties. However, the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners and the Bengals have reached an agreement in principle that works towards the construction of a music venue on The Banks and seeks to ensure the long-term viability of Paul Brown Stadium.

The amended lease will see the Bengals receive $42.3m (£33m/€37.3m) in stadium repairs and enhancements through 2026, whereas the previous terms had placed no cap on the money the county was liable for. In consideration for the County’s commitments, the Bengals have also agreed that approximately $30m of cost reimbursements to the Bengals, which the County was to make over the next eight years, will be eliminated.

The agreement also ensures the long-term sustainability of Paul Brown Stadium. Pursuant to a third-party design review and capital audit of the stadium – funded equally by the Bengals and the County – the two parties will collaborate on the allocation of additional funds for necessary capital repairs and improvements as has been called for in the County’s Capital Improvement Plan.

As a result of the County’s commitment to implement necessary capital repairs which will sustain Paul Brown Stadium into the future, the Bengals agreed to defer additional enhancements that may be requested under the lease until 2024 and to discuss those potential enhancements in the context of existing capital improvements and lease renewals.

In order to ensure the long term sustainability of the riverfront redevelopment, the County, pursuant to a public private partnership with the Bengals, will acquire additional property west of Paul Brown Stadium which will provide additional parking for the riverfront and area business employees as well as increase the number of tailgating spaces available for Bengals’ fans on game days.

The Bengals had originally opposed building a concert venue on a site adjacent to the stadium because it interfered with pre-game tailgating. However, the preferred developer, CSO/MEMI, has now been given the go-ahead to build the indoor-outdoor venue, which will be developed contemporaneously with a two-acre greenspace and event lawn.

CSO/MEMI anticipate that over 150 events will be held at Riverview Entertainment Venue drawing more than 300,000 patrons on an annual basis. The venue is also being looked upon as an integral part of the Bengals game day experience with potential pregame concerts and other events further enhancing the fan experience.

Commenting on the agreements, Bengals executive vice-president Katie Blackburn said: “This community has a long history of coming together at important junctures to keep Cincinnati and the broader community moving in a positive direction.

“That’s what the City, the County, and the Bengals did in the 1990s, and due to those efforts, our town now offers one of the most exciting riverfront redevelopment projects in America. This cooperation agreement represents another one of those times that the parties have come together, and the Bengals offer our sincere thanks to Hamilton County for their leadership in keeping this community on an upward trajectory.”

Image: Todd Evans