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Cincy votes for Bengals

The city council on Thursday night approved a funding plan for a football-only stadium, and Bengals president Mike Brown said Friday that the team would have moved to Baltimore had the vote gone the other way.

"We had prepared a two-line statement saying: "Thank you for what you did. Goodbye,' " Brown told a news conference at the team's Riverfront Stadium offices. "We were up against the wall."

He said the offer by the Maryland Stadium Authority was potentially more lucrative and that the team was justified in forcing the Ohio vote.

"I don't regret that. I don't think that was a bad thing to do," he said. "We want to be a Cincinnati team. I think you've got to give us a little credit. We've made the decision to be here."

Just before midnight Thursday, the City Council voted 5-4 to go along with Hamilton County on a $540-million project to build new stadiums for the Bengals and the Reds by 2000. The Hamilton County commissioners approved a financing plan Friday.

"It established our future," Brown said of the vote. "We are staying. That's what this was all about. It was a real deadline."

The Citizens for Choice in Taxation hopes to raise almost $40,000 for a petition drive to overturn the means of funding: a 1-percent increase in the sales tax. They need 26,700 signatures to place the issue on the ballot.

Browns: A day after the Cleveland City Council voted 16-4 in favor of a tax package to finance stadium improvements, one of the council members who opposed it said the issue has not been resolved. "There should be a public vote," Pat O'Malley said. "We're being taxed pretty heavily here." He said a referendum needs 9,300 voter signatures within 40 days.

Sharpe, Dent suits: Former Packers wide receiver Sterling Sharpe and former 49ers defensive end Richard Dent withdrew the suits they filed in federal court in Tampa after they were released because of injuries. Sharpe's suit was for $9.6-million. His $3.2-million injury-grievance claim is pending, and Judge David Doty has a hearing in Minneapolis July 11.

49ers: After being released in a salary-cap move on Wednesday and re-signing with San Francisco in a two-year deal Thursday, wide receiver John Taylor said he will retire after this season.

Dolphins: Second-round pick Andrew Greene, a 6-3, 304-pound guard from Indiana, signed a three-year contract.

Oilers: Haywood Jeffires, 26 catches away from Drew Hill's franchise record of 480 receptions, rejoined Houston for undisclosed terms eight months after being waived in a cost-cutting move.

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