Friday, April 07, 2000

Readers cry foul over ballpark design

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        I have to be careful when I check my voicemail and e-mails. Boos for the Reds' new stadium are deafening.

        “Blah. Bland. A disservice to Reds baseball fans.” — Ken Gray, Mason.

        “Booooooooring!” — Ray Norris, via the Internet.

        “As a Reds season-ticket holder I don't want a sterile stadium. I want a ballpark, something retro, something neat like Camden Yards. If you're counting up the opinions, put me on your side.” — Debbie Bramlage, Covington.

Ballpark design
        Join the crowd.

        The score stands at 121 to 1 — that's the number of readers agreeing vs. disagreeing with my column that panned the look of drawings for the Reds' new stadium. (March 29 column)

        Also coming under fire was the notion advanced by Reds chief operating officer John Allen that the stadium's plans were undergoing “value engineering.”

        Architects use that term as a fancy way of saying “doing things on the cheap.”

        “"Value engineering' at the "Wedge site' is going to be like trying to build a $1 million home on a $1,000 lot.” — Mike Dempsey, Hyde Park.

        “The Bengals get everything they want with their new stadium. The Reds have to cut costs. Who gets cheated? Us. The taxpayers. We're paying for both stadiums.” — J.A. Watson, Hyde Park.

        “The Reds are getting cheated because our county commissioners doled out everything to the Bengals' stadium.” — Johnny Wolber, Covedale.

        “No one mentioned "value engineering' when they were asking for our tax dollars. They talked instead about a first-class stadium that paid tribute to our baseball heritage. What we're getting is a stadium that's generic and disgusting.” — Danny Dell, downtown.

Details, details
        At this point, the stadium's drawing lacks distinctive architectural and historic design features. No element stands out or pays tribute to the Reds' long history.

        The lone unique feature is a hole in the upper deck called “the notch.” This gap allows pedestrians on Sycamore Street to look into the stadium and catch a glimpse of the river.

        “Air from the notch will affect pop flies and give infielders a hard time.” — Don W. Duebber, Covedale.

        “The good news is that Cincinnati won't have to watch ballgames in a large donut. The bad news is we get to watch baseball in a small donut with a few bites out of it.” — David Bushle, Westwood.

        “I've seen better-looking drawings for a renovated Cinergy Field.” — Bruce Conway, Hyde Park.

        “The thing looks like an oversized Little League park. It's sick that (John) Allen is ignoring the Reds' history and tradition and, more importantly, his fans by designing a blue-light-special stadium that holds 42K measly seats.” — Andy Adams, via the Internet.

        Dissatisfaction with the stadium's plans has a way of soaring like a home-run ball over a ballpark's center-field fence. Far-flung Reds fans expressed disbelief that the team's new home would be so plain.

        “As a die-hard Reds fan living in Illinois I am embarrassed by the design being presented, a "unique' modern ballpark. All this amounts to is that this park is going to be uniquely ugly.” — Dave Rader, Marion, Ill.

        “As a warm-up to April Fools' Day the Cincinnati Reds thought they would play a joke on the city of Cincy by showing designs of the doomed-from-the-start stadium known as Comiskey II in Chicago, right? Please tell me this is a joke.” — Brian Hill, Woodland Hills, Calif.

Minority opinion
        The sole vote for the stadium's design was cast by Tim Lamphir of Florence.

        Admitting he's “not a baseball fan,” he told me he likes the way home plate faces south. “I would rather see the Ohio River than have the stadium open toward the dirty, smoggy city of Cincinnati.”

        He also supports “value engineering” because “taxpayers are fed up supporting these major-league stadiums. They'll probably just tear this stadium down in 20 years.

        “So why go over budget by $100 million just to put on some bells and whistles?”

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at 768-8379; fax 768-8340.