240222 Paycor [600x400]
240222 Paycor [600x400] (Credit: Cara Owsley-USA TODAY Sports)

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CINCINNATI -- The Bengals took a big step toward affirming their commitment to remaining in Cincinnati.

On Tuesday, the team announced an investment of $100 million to $120 million in renovations at Paycor Stadium. In a post on the team's website, the Bengals said the league's finance committee unanimously approved the team's application to use funds from the NFL's G-5 loan program.

The development comes at a time when local government officials and the franchise are hoping to make progress toward a new agreement regarding the team's stadium as the old one approaches its expiration date.

The Bengals said the deal showcases their "support and commitment to a successful future in Cincinnati."

"The Bengals are continuing to invest in our future here in Cincinnati," Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn said in a release announcing the funding. "We are lucky to have a great stadium and we are proud to invest in this great asset to help make it a best-in-class facility."

The money will be spent on updating audio and video systems, renovating suites and club lounges, concession upgrades and other projects aimed at improving the fan experience. The franchise has also invested $40 million in private funds for the team's indoor practice facility, training room and locker room, with the latter currently under construction.

The projects are scheduled to run through 2026, the team said in its release. The initial lease between the Bengals and Hamilton County for Paycor Stadium is set to expire in 2026. The team has five separate two-year options that it can exercise, which would extend the agreement through 2036.

Both parties are eyeing movement toward striking a long-term deal.

In August 2023, Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn sent an email to county administrator Jeff Alutto regarding the lack of progress on those discussions, according to documents obtained through an open records request. Blackburn offered a couple of options to help fulfill short-term obligations, such as the ones mentioned in Tuesday's release, as they continued conversations on a long-term deal.

"Time is no one's ally here," Blackburn wrote to Alutto.

In a board of county commissioners meeting in April, Alutto outlined some of the progress being made on stadium renovations, such as the replacement of the team's playing turf, which is set for completion in June. At that meeting, Alutto said he wished the two sides were further along in discussions. Commissioner president Alicia Reece also said that the NFL needed to put in a minimum of $100 million in the next round of stadium funding.

In a statement issued to ESPN on Tuesday evening, Alutto cited the significance of the latest development and investment from the Bengals into their stadium.

"The Board's goal has always been a multi-faceted funding approach to keep the stadium competitive for decades to come," Alutto said. "With this new support from the NFL, this is a significant step in the direction of achieving that goal."