CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Nobody in Ohio's U.S. House delegation has spoken out on the matter yet. But Buffalo's Democratic congressman is urging the National Football League to revise ownership rules so communities can float stock deals and purchase the local professional franchise. U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins says Buffalo's Bills could move to Toronto because the Lake Erie city's economy and population are in a severe downturn. He wants the league to again authorize deals like the arrangement from long ago that allowed Green Bay to purchase the Packers and keep the team in town. Higgins says small markets -- think places like Cincinnati -- are chained to the whims of owners they cannot buy out. He said stocks and voting rights are the solution:
"If the league is serious about the preservation of small markets where fans have nurtured its teams throughout league history, it must review its policy preventing community ownership."
Higgins sent his letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday. No response yet. The economy in Buffalo is terrible -- Cleveland and Cincinnati are not in as bad a shape. But both Ohio cities are way off their prime. Higgins contends the Packers should be the NFL's role model for preserving football in a distressed community like Buffalo:
"The result has been one of the most stable and successful franchises in history, as the Packers have become a financial asset to the league far beyond its ability to raise revenues locally. As the Packers have demonstrated, community ownership leads to a level of community pride and team support unrivaled in professional sports."
You can read about Higgins here on his House Web site. The Bengals, of course, aren't planning to move anytime soon. But they are a franchise whose ownership seems to put a premium on finances over performance on the field. Cincinnati lawyer Tim Smith passed along this e-mail in which he suggests watching the Bengals on the field may be lowering the city's birth rate:
"I just read that in 1996, scientists took saliva samples of male soccer fans before and after a game between Brazil and Italy. Brazil won. The testosterone levels of Brazil's fans were found to have risen 28% over pregame levels, while the testosterone levels of Italy's supporters had declined by 25%. Subsequent studies have corroborated these results.Therefore, in calculating the cost of Bengals season tickets, area men should not only include the parking, the seat license, the tickets, the $4 pops, the $6.50 draft beers, and the overpriced food, they might consider the cost of Viagra as well."