Hamilton County Commissioner and Broadway Commons booster John S. Dowlin has asked National League President Leonard S. Coleman "to bring sensible closure" to Cincinnati's stadium debate.
"I believe that the only such person to do that may be you," Mr. Dowlin said in an Aug. 22 letter.
"For the sake of the Cincinnati Reds, Major League Baseball and the people of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, please enter forcefully into the question: 'Why will the Reds not consider Broadway Commons?' " Mr. Dowlin asked.
Mr. Coleman's office received the letter Wednesday, but he is out of the office until next week and was unaware of the document. He could not be reached for comment.
County Commission President Bob Bedinghaus, who met with Mr. Coleman Aug. 7, said he doubted Mr. Coleman will intervene in negotiations placing a ballpark at Broadway Commons or between Riverfront Coliseum and Cinergy Field.
"My understanding is that the league considers site a local matter to be decided by local officials," Mr. Bedinghaus said Thursday.
Reds Managing Executive John Allen, who wants a river site, sat in on that meeting with Mr. Bedinghaus and Mr. Coleman three weeks ago in what has been characterized as a get-acquainted meeting with no negotiations.
"Len is involved in the sense we consult with him, but this isn't going to motivate him to get involved in the negotiations," Mr. Allen said. "I'm not saying (Major League Baseball) supports a certain site, but they support us."
Mr. Bedinghaus objected to Mr. Dowlin's telling Mr. Coleman that taxpayers would save $62 million at Broadway compared with the river.
Mr. Bedinghaus fired off an Aug. 26 memo to Mr. Dowlin in which he said the figure was "wildly exaggerated, especially since land acquisition costs are ignored."
But Mr. Dowlin argued that while the riverfront land is already publicly owned, it could be sold if Broadway Commons were the site, thus recouping the cost of the Broadway Commons site.
Mr. Dowlin told Mr. Coleman he was writing "with the knowledge of the other two" commissioners, but not on their behalf.
But Mr. Bedinghaus said in his memo, "I'm offended by the fact that my 'knowledge' of your letter came after you sent the letter."
On Thursday, Mr. Bedinghaus said his differences with Mr. Dowlin were "honorable disagreements" and that "John doesn't answer to me. He has the right to correspond with anyone he wants."
Tom Neyer, the other commissioner, said Mr. Dowlin's letter didn't bother him because he didn't say the other commissioners agreed with him.
"John has reached conclusions not necessarily shared by the board," said Mr. Neyer, who along with Mr. Bedinghaus has not decided on a site. "I wish there wasn't so much talk about a site. There's more to a real estate deal than site. . . . This decision isn't going to be made by $10 million either way."
In his letter to Mr. Coleman, Mr. Dowlin ripped the Reds for refusing to take the county's offer because it wasn't as good as the Bengals' deal, even though a county adviser called it "the greatest financial deal in the history of baseball."
In its last known offer, the county proposed a $220 million stadium with a $25 million contribution by the Reds.
Mr. Allen strongly disputed the claim his club was offered baseball's richest deal.
"I don't know where (Mr. Dowlin) got his figures," said Mr. Allen. He pointed to the Comiskey Park deal in which the White Sox didn't have to put up any money for stadium construction. "Colorado is another very good deal.
"All we're asking for is some recognition that we're getting a less expensive stadium (than the Bengals) and that we're not getting the best site even though we have much more economic impact than the Bengals with 81 dates a year," said Mr. Allen, whose first choice for a site was west of the Roebling Suspension Bridge.
A source close to the negotiations said there are several factors that don't make the deal as appealing as some of baseball's recent stadium projects.
"The Reds have already compromised on site and compromised on 2002 (they wanted to be in by 2000)," said the source. "They're putting up ($25) million and have a ticket surcharge. In Baltimore, Denver and Cleveland, the teams got their prime sites."
Mr. Dowlin said he wanted to convey his frustrations to Mr. Coleman, asking him to intervene because Mr. Dowlin hasn't received satisfactory responses from the Reds regarding the $62 million question.
Mr. Allen reiterated the reasons the Reds want the riverfront: tradition, the site has been successful for three decades, Cincinnati is identified with the river, and the funding for Fort Washington Way - which must be moved if a new Reds stadium is built on the riverfront - is all but in place.
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SCHOTT SAYS 'NO WAY' TO WEDGE April 12, 1997
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BALLPARK DEBATE LINGERS ON April 6, 1997
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April 6, 1997
REDS PLAN SEAT LICENSING March 14, 1997
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REDS ARE READY TO PLAY HARDBALL Feb. 15, 1997
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