The Cincinnati Bengals will continue to be irrelevant until they can beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. That’s the sad bottom line for life in the AFC North. Nonetheless, losing to a hated divisional rival in front of a home crowd of 63,411 fans at possibly the most pivotal point in the season, the Brown family is acutely aware this week of what this loss means to their own more fiscal bottom line.
Hearken back: last season the Bengals’ front office lost an incredible (but undisclosed) amount of money as Paul Brown Stadium boasted the lowest attendance of any NFL arena in 2011. Home games were routinely blacked out, merchandise for rookies such as A.J. Green and Andy Dalton were boycotted as racks of antiquated Carson Palmer and Ochocinco jerseys collected dust, and the season concluded with a laughable buy-one-get-one-free ticket incentive. Though NFL Owners do receive a percentage of profit-sharing from the League, the vast majority of their income is produced through vendors, parking, select seating in specified areas of their stadiums and overall sales, which means the whether he chose to admit it or not, Owner Mike Brown took a very serious hit from the fans last year.
A play-off game and a solid corps of young talent helped the Browns rebound from the worst year of season ticket and press box sales in over a decade. It also didn’t hurt that the Browns under went a major public relations campaign – offering discounts on select seating for this season as well as season tickets, localized Spring Training in Cincinnati rather than Georgetown, fired Jim Lippincott, hired two new scouts, and set into motion strangely timed agreements with Hamilton County about cost-sharing of team facilities and practice fields.