Wednesday, October 04, 2000

Ballpark groundbreaking today,
but fans not invited

Selig can come, but area declared unsafe for public

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There will be a celebration and groundbreaking for the Reds new Great American Ball Park today, but you're not invited.

        The public will be excluded from the symbolic start of construction at the $330 million baseball stadium it is paying for. The reason: Construction has started.

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        That makes the area a construction zone and unsafe for the public, said spokeswoman Debra DeCourcy.

        Crews began tearing down the eastern plaza and parking garage at Cinergy Field next door to the new ballpark in August. A portion of the old stadium's plaza, parking garage and center field wall have to be removed so the new stadium can be squeezed between Cinergy and the Firstar Center.
        “It's just the nature of the site and what is going on around it,” Ms. DeCourcy said.

        That's not good enough for Ryan Beck, 24, of Eden Park. Mr. Beck went to the Paul Brown Stadium open house in August to see how his tax dollars were spent. He would like to do the same with the ballpark.

        “If we're paying for it, we should be allowed to go,” Mr. Beck said.

        Today's event will be in stark contrast to groundbreaking at Paul Brown Stadium, when more than 3,000 people showed up for a street party.

        “It's just not practical to get thousands of people in a construction zone,” said Hamilton County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus, the point man on stadium issues.

        Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who last summer wouldn't allow Pete Rose to participate in a special event honoring the Big Red Machine, will be on hand.

        Cincinnati Councilman Todd Portune, who wrote a mock ordinance creating a “Bud Selig exclusionary zone” around the city, said a private groundbreaking should offend taxpayers, and Mr. Selig's presence should offend Reds' fans.

        Mr. Portune, who is running for Mr. Bedinghaus' seat on the county commission this November, said he will not attend.

        “If the public's not invited, then I'm not going,” he said.

        Sept. 24 story: Taking a bite out of Cinergy Field

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