In 1996 Hamilton County voters passed a one-half percent sales tax increase to fund the building of two new home venues for both the Bengals and the Major League Baseball Cincinnati Reds. Previously the Bengals and the Reds shared tenancy of Riverfront Stadium (Cinergy Field), but both teams complained that the aging multipurpose facility lacked modern amenities and other things necessary for small-market teams to survive. Paul Brown Stadium was built first to the west; after the Bengals moved, Cinergy Field installed natural grass and was partially demolished to allow construction of adjacent Great American Ball Park to the east. Following the 2002 baseball season, Cinergy was demolished on December 29. The Bengals have hosted four NFL playoff games at Paul Brown Stadium, with no victories.
For its first four years the field was natural Kentucky Bluegrass, but maintenance problems arose, and at one point it was rated as the third-worst field in the league. Hamilton County explored other options and chose the synthetic FieldTurf system. The infilled artificial turf looks and feels like real grass and, since the field markings are sewn into the fabric, repainting between games is unnecessary. The reduced maintenance saves the county approximately US$100,000 annually . Additionally, it opens Paul Brown Stadium to other uses without worry of damage to the turf. The FieldTurf was installed for the 2004 season. The field is one of only two stadiums in the NFL to have "five miles of piping" running under the field to keep the rubber inlays heated. In April 2012, the stadium chose to update the playing surface with an installation of Act Global synthetic turf.
Two LED video displays at either end zone, installed in 2000, provide a good view of the on-field action for every spectator. Over 200 feet of ribbon display were installed along the fascia of the stadium.