Hamilton County & Bengals reach deal, prepare way for GE deal
Hamilton County and the Bengals have a reached a deal that could pave the way for luring General Electric to the Banks.
The county announced Thursday the Bengals have agreed to waive height restrictions that would've halted a office space large enough to house General Electric's new Southwest Ohio Global Operations headquarters and a planned apartment building in exchange for six items.
Commissioner Greg Hartmann says the deal will allow the county and city to aggressively bid for GE.
"The prospect of 2,000 jobs from General Electric on our central riverfront represents an economic homerun, maybe in this situation more appropriately, an economic touchdown. This also represents a new era of teamwork between Hamilton County and the Cincinnati Bengals."
The six items in the cost-sharing deal include, a new scoreboard, expanded WiFi, new club lounge furniture, the right to play two home games internationally, and locker room and parking improvements.
- The Bengals will pay 25 percent of the cost of a new scoreboard to be installed by July 1, 2015
- The Bengals will pay for new stadium-wide WiFi estimated at $3.5 million. The county will pay to maintain the system. In return, county will contribute $3 million and 6/7th of the total WiFi system in game day operating expenses. Some rent concessions also included.
- County will replace Club Lounge furniture, estimated at $1 million. Team will pay increased rent in an equal amount in Lease Year 16.
- In a five year span, the Bengals will have the right to play two regular season home games outside the United States as part of the NFL's international program.
- County will work with the Cincinnati Park Board to upgrade parking lots E and F.
- The Bengals will pay for new, expanded locker and weight room facilities and then retain the title to those facilities. Team will then make some extra rent payments. County will pay to maintain the new facilities.
Katie Brown Blackburn, a member of the Bengals' front office and Mike Brown's daughter, has also been named to the Joint Banks Steering Committee.
In a statement, Scott Stringer, executive vice president of Banks developer Carter, says “We are very pleased with today’s development because it enables the next phase of The Banks to move forward. We anticipate a groundbreaking on the construction of Phase IIA, which includes 291 apartments and approximately 20,000 square feet of retail, to occur around the end of the month. We look forward to continuing to make The Banks Cincinnati’s premier place in which to live, work and play.”
Also in a statement, Bengals President Mike Brown writes, "We wanted to demonstrate our interest in working together to ensure that The Banks is a viable location for this project. We all know that the Cincinnati area is a great place to live and work. Landing this project will let the nation know it as well.”