A Bob Bedinghaus miscellany

In the November issue of Cincinnati Magazine, I’ve got a feature on Hamilton County’s beleaguered stadium fund — and on how Mike Brown and the Bengals deserve much of the blame for its beleaguered state.  The feature’s long — 4,000 words — but not long enough, and I’m going to write a couple of preview posts with bonus material. Up first: a collection of retrospectively hilarious-slash-depressing quotations from Bob Bedinghaus.

For the uninitiated: As county commissioner in the 1990s, Bedinghaus did more than anyone to create the stadium fund and to finance Paul Brown Stadium. Then he lost reelection bid in 2000 — the first time a Republican had lost to a Democrat in this race since Lyndon Johnson was president. Then he got hired by the Bengals. (He’s pictured above in his stadium office.)

Anyway, the wit and wisdom of Bob Bedinghaus:

  • Describing his 1995 meeting with Mike Brown: “I walked away from there with a pretty good gut feeling that I could trust him.” [link]
  • Describing his 1995 meeting with David Milenthal, CEO of the ad agency that used astroturfing to win the stadium proposal: “The first instruction from Milenthal was, SHUT UP.” [link]
  • April of 1997 (when people were fretting the two stadiums would cost $675 million): “[The final cost will be] nowhere near that range.”  [link]
  • (N.B. The two stadiums ended up costing well over a billion dollars.)
  • November of 1997: “I think it’s expected there would be a healthy amount of buyer’s remorse. . . . It’s not too much different than someone who buys a new car or new house and then starts to rethink the decision.” [link]
  • May of 1998: “I don’t know how anybody could be prepared to have gone through what I went through. . . . At some point I’ll walk away from the county commission knowing I’ve played a role in changing the direction of the community.” [link]
  • August of 2000: “[The Bengals are] an organization that’s run by lawyers, and they look for every penny around every corner. . . . It’s going to be a difficult relationship going forward for the next 30 years.” [link]
  • August of 2000: “The unfortunate reality of dealing with the Bengals is dealing with their lawsuits.” [link]
  • August of 2000 (and in a debate with his political opponent, Todd Portune): “Are people angry about the cost of the stadium? Without a doubt. Will people realize that we made some of the tough decisions to make the investment to make this community better? I’m confident they’re going to see that.” [link]
  • (N.B. The Bengals hire Bedinghaus somewhere around here. One of his job titles: Director of Stadium Development.)
  • April of 2009 (and in response to Portune’s [admittedly ill-thought-out] proposal to sell the stadium’s naming rights): “The image that there is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow for Hamilton County is not as shiny as it seems.” [link]
  • November of 2010: “What we have found in our experience is that . . . Cincinnati is not an A-list city. Concert promoters are looking to put on events in areas where there is the most likelihood of success.” [link]

I’m tempted to end with the poetic contrast between Bedinghaus-the-public servant and Bedinghaus-the-Bengals exec. But let’s give the last word to Mike Brown, who, in February of 2000, when Bedinghaus’s reelection campaign was heating up, told the Enquirer that “Bob has taken a stand for the future of Hamilton County. . . . He was willing to risk his political future. We need more people like him in politics.” [link]

When Bedinghaus lost the election, Brown, an avid reader of history, compared him to Winston Churchill.


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