The Absolute Worst Pro Sports Franchise


That would be the Cincinnati Bengals, who not only suck in the NFL, but in the hearts and minds of their would-be fans. ESPN has used fan feedback to generate "The Ultimate Standings," rankings for teams in MLB, the NHL, NBA, and NFL. The traits include "bang for the buck" (revenue from fans divided by wins), fan relations, ownership, affordability, and more.

Out of 118 teams ranked, the Bengals came in dead last. What's interesting is that the Bengals are also recent recipients of one of the most profitable municipal leases in history, including a brand-new taxpayer-funded stadium from which all proceeds go into the teamowners' pockets. In other words, even with a horrible team and slumping ticket sales, the owners can still make money. Even the Cincinnati Enquirer, a ludicrously boosterish newspaper, is getting cynical.

NEXT: License to Grow Pot?

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  1. Yes, the Bengals suck. But what does it say about the rest of the NFL that they’re the only team that’s hired a black coach this year (and one of only three that has a black coach, period)? That the only place a black coach can find employment is in the very, very bottom of the barrel?

  2. 3 Black coaches in the NFL is about 1 in 10 which is very close to the percentage of Blacks as in the general population. Isn’t that what it’s all about, Eric? I should think you would be thrilled! NFL head coaching “looks like America”.

    Now that little pesky little problem of not enough white players in the NFL and NBA.

    Gimme a break.

  3. One in 10 might be close to the population of blacks in America, Steve, but it ain’t nowhere close to the population of blacks playing in the NFL. If you’re going to draw comparisons, draw the correct one.

  4. Steve – I also have a problem with the whole notion that all of our institutions should “look like America.” By that logic, if any ethnic group wants to increase its chances of having its members become professional athletes, or be admitted to Harvard, or become a CEO, all it has to do is propagate faster than other ethnic groups. Like all other forms of “social engineering”, it is utterly ridiculous. When will we reach the point in this country where merit is merit and nothing else really matters?

  5. There’s only 1 Asian player in the NFL (not counting the Samoans & Tongans, who are “Pacific Islanders”).

    (Dat Nguyen of the Cowboys.)

    Where is Johnnie Cochrane when we need him? Asians should sue.

    Tony Gonzalez & Jeff Garcia are the only Latinos. Are the Gramatica brothers Latinos?

    Latinos should also sue.

  6. John: it is not immediately obvious to common citizens that losing a professional sports franchise might be a good thing. Look at the arguments on the thread right here. Both sides can cite studies to support their point of view.

    To “joe (or jane) six-pack” it might seem intuitively obvious that getting -or keeping- a professional franchise would help the local economy. All those games help local vendors, don’t they? And so on… I don’t think I need to rehash all the arguments here.

    So a lot of “experts” told them it’s a good idea, Mike Brown threatened to take the team out of Cincinnati, and all the citizens of Hamilton County have to do is vote to increase the sales tax to 6.5% to build a new stadium. (Yes, it was a referendum for the county, not just Greater Cincinnati) And Mike Brown did promise to produce a winning team if the city did that.

    Stupid? Maybe. Gullible? Perhaps. Most normal people don’t have the background required to get a handle on this, and the team owners sure won’t help clear it up. Let’s not forget there’s a standing list of cities who would love to pick up a professional franchise. I wasn’t asked for my vote as I live in neighboring Butler County, even though I work in Hamilton County.

    Nick picked up on an important point: it’s become a commonly held belief around here that Mike Brown really doesn’t care if he ever builds a winning team as long as he makes money. Considering the deal cut with the city, this may be an accurate appraisal. This leads me to believe that the City leaders of Cincinnati should be criticized, not the voters who trusted them to negotiate intelligently.

    You may, however, want to criticize the fans here in Cincy on their methods of protest. Passing petitions to remove Mike Brown as controller of the Bengals are very popular.

    Not buying any tickets or other Bengals’ paraphenalia until he’s gone hasn’t occured to them yet, alas.

  7. Between the deal that the Bengals got for their stadium & the Reds’ new stadium; Cincinnati has to have the stupidest taxpayers in the country. Maybe in the world.

    People in Los Angeles have a reputation for being airheads, but the NFL does not play in LA because very few Angelenos are stupid enough think that closing schools & police stations to build a stadium for a Numerous Felons League team is a good idea.

  8. NFL franchises do bring value to a community. Outside of the entertainment value, they also add revenue to the city’s tax coffers every year by virtue of increased property values, concession receipts, and attraction of tourists (hotels, restaurants, etc). The problem with the economic relationship right now is that NFL teams have no incentive to stay in one community. Basically, the community fronts the money for a stadium by issuing a municipal bond, ensuring that it will have to service the bond over its life, while the team can up and leave on a whim, meaning there is no guarantee that the community will have the revenue necessary to pay the bond. The solution is fairly simple – communities should require NFL teams and other pro sports franchises to guarantee their leases at least through the term of the bond issue.

  9. Brad, I seem to recall a few reports (maybe one in The Economist) that seemed to determine that, at best, the difference between the economic activity created by having a sports franchise and the revenue lost due to tax abatements, construction costs and land given over to stadiums and parking lots was a wash. I’ll see if I can come up with any links to that effect.

  10. Baltimore and San Diego got ludicrous deals as well. And of course, the Chargers are threatening to leave if they don’t get a new stadium, as if the one they have, complete with a sellout guaranteed by the city for every game, is not good enough.

  11. Pro sports teams do not attract revenue to a city. They simply rearrange existing revenue.

    Having Raiders’ fans travel to your city creates value? Well, maybe it does if you are a bail bondsman or a criminal defense attorney.

    Besides, NFL teams will not guarantee their leases for the life of the stadium bonds. They can always find a city with stupider taxpayers.

    Even the Leftwinger that puts together this website below knows; stadium subsidies are Welfare.

    If you give Welfare to a Billionaire sports team owner or millionaire players; they will take the money to Florida where they live because there is no state income tax there. Or to one of their Cayman Islands corporations.

    If you give Welfare to a crack whore with 10 kids by 8 different men; at least she will spend some of the money in the community.

  12. here in lovely Milwaukee in the people’s republic of wisconsin where people LOVE to pay taxes, not only do we have a stadium LOADED with design flaws, we have one of the worst pro baseball franchises EVER.

    Contrast that with Green Bay. The difference? The PEOPLE own the Packers.

  13. Brad:

    Guess I should have used the > >?

  14. I bet anyone in this site I could show them how to turn $7 into $20,000. Don’t believe me, ask the owner of the Orlando Magic….

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