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DECISION '96: HAMILTON COUNTY OK'S BENGALS AND REDS PARKS

     Hamilton County voters yesterday "overwhelmingly ratified" a
half-cent sales tax increase to build two new stadiums for the
Reds and Bengals, according to Michaud & Green of the CINCINNATI
ENQUIRER.  Despite poor weather, turnout was a record in a
primary election.  With close to all precincts reporting, Issue I
on the stadium tax led, 61% to 39%.  Bengals GM Mike Brown hugged
Reds Owner Marge Schott before addressing a pro-stadium rally and
called it the "greatest moment in my life."  OH Gov. George
Voinovich said citizens voted to "maintain Cincinnati as a major
league city."  The vote will raise the sales tax in Hamilton
County from 5.5% to 6% beginning June 1.  The tax would raise
around $50M each year, of which Hamilton County would use $35M a
year to build the stadiums.  The rest would fund property tax
relief.  The Bengals will pay $25-30M toward the estimated $170M
football stadium, while Schott is in discussions with officials
on their contribution.  Proponents say the total cost of the
project will hit $700M when interest payments are included, up
from preliminary estimates of $544.2M.  Hamilton County
Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus said work to complete the financing
for the stadium will begin immediately (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER,
3/20).
     TIGER BY THE TAIL?  As election day approached, "speculation
increased" the Bengals might move to Cleveland if the tax failed
(Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 3/20).  After the vote, Brown admitted
filling a 70,000-seat stadium and selling over 70 boxes will be
difficult.  Local economists are also "skeptical" the city's
corporate community will support both teams (Akron BEACON
JOURNAL, 3/20).
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