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Williams: High sales tax reminder of steep price to have NFL's Cincinnati Bengals

Ask columnist Jason Williams anything − sports or non-sports – and he’ll pick some of your questions and respond on Cincinnati.com. Email: jwilliams@enquirer.com

Cincinnati Bengals owner, Mike Brown watches his team during an off-season practice outside of Paycor Stadium Tuesday, May 7, 2024.
Cincinnati Bengals owner, Mike Brown watches his team during an off-season practice outside of Paycor Stadium Tuesday, May 7, 2024.

Message: In Hamilton County, we pay a 7.8% sales tax. Our local residents have been burdened with excessive taxing largely due to the publicly funded sports venues. We are paying the price for local sports ownership not being part of the new owner wave of multibillion-dollar net worth individuals.

Reply: Yep, as Paycor Stadium renovation news ramps up, this is a harsh reminder that we’re not living in your mom and dad’s Hamilton County anymore.

We rank No. 2 in the state in highest sales tax, only behind the whopping 8.0% in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland). Pain. Some 81 of the 88 counties have a sales tax rate of 7.25% or lower.

And before anyone wants to place all the blame on the Democrats taking control of Hamilton County in the past decade or so, never forget it was the Republicans who pushed the half-cent stadium tax in the 1990s.

Your email landed amid the news that the owner of the Carolina Panthers has essentially asked the city of Charlotte to go halfsies on a proposed $1 billion renovation to Bank of America Stadium over the next several years.

Getting these new stadium construction or renovation deals as a close to a 50/50 team/taxpayer split seems fair. (And by “fair,” I mean in world of the NFL stadium shakedown game. A city has to pay a premium to keep an NFL franchise.) In some cases, a 60/40 split would probably be acceptable.

You make a good point about the billionaire class. Panthers billionaire owner David Tepper, for example, made most of his money as a hedge fund manager. He bought the Panthers in 2018. He has non-football money to support his football business. Same with Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who bought the team in 2012. He made his billions owning truck stops.

Bengals owner Mike Brown’s business is football. He doesn’t have an outside business to help support the Bengals. That shouldn’t excuse him from having to pay more for Paycor Stadium upgrades. After all, the Bengals are valued at $3.5 billion, according to Forbes.com.

But perhaps it helps explain Brown's unwillingness to spend anywhere near what many of his NFL colleagues do for stadiums.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: High sales tax reminder of steep price to have NFL Cincinnati Bengals