Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Ballpark almost ready; come see


Public tours scheduled March 22-23

By Cliff Radel
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Scoreboard flashes graphics Tuesday.
(Michael E. Keating photos)
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The grass just got cut. Home plate's in place. Under a sunny, blue sky, the white outline of the batter's box gleamed against the red clay. It was a beautiful day for a ballgame at Great American Ball Park. Let's play two.

"We could play ball today," said John Allen.

The Cincinnati Reds' chief operating officer stood on the edge of Crosley Terrace, the new ballpark's grand entrance. He was helping lead Tuesday's media tour of the team's new home.

The next tours are the two-day public open house March 22-23.

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Riverboat-themed stacks will be the launch site for fireworks after Reds' home runs and victories.
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That's when the ballpark's owners, the taxpayers of Hamilton County, will be able to see their $280 million investment.

Until then, there's plenty of work to do. Little things. Sealing concrete floors. Removing debris. Repairing drywall dings. Fielding a winning team.

Scott Tincher smoothed a pad of freshly poured cement just inside the entrance.

"An ATM's going here," the construction worker said as he worked the oozing slurry.

"This place will be ready for Opening Day," he added, pausing to glance at the ballpark.

"And it's going to look great."

That was the consensus of jaded media types Tuesday as they oohed and ahhed over the ballpark's nods to the Reds' history and the up-close-and-personal views from the seats in the stands.

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Grounds crew marks the batter's box.
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The industrial-themed interior of the Machine Room restaurant drew raves for its numerous references to the World Series-winning Big Red Machine teams. The eatery's logo features the players' numbers, including Pete Rose's 14.

The seats in the bleachers are close enough to count the blades of grass in the field as the center fielder anticipates the first pitch.

All that's needed is for an umpire to yell:

"Play ball."

E-mail cradel@enquirer.com

Coming up: In the March 22 Enquirer, you'll find a guide to the new Great American Ball Park. You'll learn more about the stadium's features and what the Reds have in store for this season in this commemorative section.




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