The Bengals will continue to be primarily owned by Mike Brown. And Mike Brown now will own a bigger piece of the team.
The team has announced that the existing owners of the team have exercised the contractual right to match an offer made by a group of New York investors for a minority interest in the team held by Austin E. “Dutch” Knowlton.
“This transaction solidifies the local ownership of the Cincinnati Bengals, with the Brown family continuing to hold the controlling interest,” the team announced.
But the most intriguing line of the team-issued release was the last one.
“We are proud to be the owners of the NFL’s Cincinnati franchise,” Mike Brown said, on behalf of the Brown family. “We are committed to steps that will continue the Bengals as an asset for Greater Cincinnati.”
That Brown would even mention keeping the team in “Greater Cincinnati” implies the existence of a possibility that the team would leave “Greater Cincinnati.” It’s a possibility that has never been seriously mentioned, especially since the team plays in a fairly new stadium for which the taxpayers of “Greater Cincinnati” footed most if not all of the bill.
But now that the citizens of “Greater Cincinnati” aren’t showing up in sufficient numbers for the home games, maybe the money-conscious Mike Brown is pondering the dramatic increase in franchise value and revenue that would come from a move to a much larger market. Sure, there’s a lease that would need to be handled (possibly with a large chunk of cash) and a relocation vote that would need to be approved by the other owners (definitely with an ever larger chunk of cash). But the crunching of the numbers could result in the crunching of a lot more paper into the pockets of Mike Brown, if the team flees Ohio.
Regardless of his reason for mentioning ownership being “committed” to keeping the team in “Greater Cincinnati,” it would make no sense to mention staying unless there was a chance of leaving.