Thursday, October 2, 1997
Reds up stadium demands
County commissioner: 'Get real'

BY LUCY MAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati Reds' latest proposal to Hamilton County for a new ballpark includes making fewer rent payments and receiving nearly $34 million in guaranteed revenues during the middle 10 years of a 30-year lease.

The team also proposes that if a new ballpark is not built by the 2002 baseball season, the Reds want $300,000 for every game missed that year. Missing an entire season would result in a $24.3 million penalty.

The late payments would increase by 10 percent for every missed game in 2003 and another 10 percent for every missed game every year after that.

The team's latest proposal also asks the county for smaller annual payments to a reserve fund to be used for operating and maintenance expenses at the new ballpark.

The proposal was faxed from the Reds on Sept. 19 to a Chicago law firm working with Hamilton County on stadium negotiations. It was obtained Wednesday by The Enquirer through an Ohio public records request.

Overall, the Reds' latest offer includes more demands of the county than the team's last proposal, which Hamilton County Commissioner John Dowlin called "ridiculous."

"This is more advantageous to the Reds than the deal we had turned down and less advantageous to the taxpayers," Mr. Dowlin said. "From my standpoint, it's time to say, 'Get real.' "

Reds Managing Executive John Allen declined to comment on the club's latest offer Wednesday.

The team's demands are similar to the late payments and guaranteed revenues the county promised the Cincinnati Bengals in the football stadium lease signed in May. The Bengals, however, can leave town if the new football stadium is not finished by 2000. As far as the county is concerned, the Reds have a valid lease to play in Cinergy Field until 2010.

The Reds ask the county to "reimburse" the team $2.67 million for baseball expenses in the 11th year of the 30-year lease. Then the team wants that reimbursement to grow by 5 percent yearly through the 20th year of the lease. That adds up to nearly $34 million.

In the team's proposal, which is written as a draft memorandum of understanding between the team and the county, the Reds continue to want a 45,000-seat ballpark costing $235 million as of 2000. The stadium would include 3,000 club seats and 50 luxury suites plus one for the county's use.

Many of the team's demands have not changed since the last written proposal the club gave the county in June. They include:

  • A "mutually acceptable" riverfront site.

  • A "feasibility study" of the site to be completed to the Reds' satisfaction. If the team does not like the results, it can walk away from the deal.

  • Rewriting the team's existing lease with the county so the county forgives any past-due rent and so the Reds' rent payments are no more than $750,000.

  • After 2000, the Reds would pay only $1 a year in rent to finish out their time at Cinergy Field.

In the June proposal, the team offered to pay $2.5 million in rent each of the first 10 years of the lease and $1 a year for the rest of the 30-year lease. In the latest proposal, the team suggests paying $2.5 million in rent for only eight years and $1 a year after that.

The county has different ideas. In a document sent to the team in May, the county offered to build a $220 million stadium.

The county also has not spelled out the terms of a feasibility study, as the team has.

Sources have said the study is the team's effort to be certain a site known as Baseball on Main or the Wedge between Cinergy Field and the new Crown could work. That site has been described as a construction challenge because part of Cinergy Field's parking structure and seating bowl would have to be torn down during construction of the ballpark.

Mr. Allen has told the Enquirer he thinks Baseball on Main will work. On the off chance it does not, he said, the club would consider accepting an extensive renovation of Cinergy Field.

The county's May proposal continues to mention stadium sites at both Baseball on Main and Broadway Commons, the location at Broadway and Reading Road. But the Reds have insisted the team wants a new ballpark on the riverfront, and Mr. Allen has said Broadway Commons is not an option.

The draft agreement being negotiated is the foundation for an initial agreement that ultimately will lead to a lease deal. The county followed a similar process with the Bengals.

The Bengals and the county signed a deal in September, announced a stadium site in February and signed a final lease in May.

The Reds and county do not appear to be close to signing even a preliminary agreement.

"It's safe to say both parties are within days of agreeing to sign off on an agreement. But we just can't agree on which one," joked Hamilton County Commission President Bob Bedinghaus.

REDS PAGE

Previous stadium stories

CITY COUNCIL ENDORSES BROADWAY September 25, 1997
RENOVATED CINERGY OPTION AGAIN September 13, 1997
NL PRESIDENT BACKS RIVERFRONT SITE September 10, 1997
ANALYSIS: NO NEED TO RUSH REDS BALLPARK August 31, 1997
DOWLIN ASKS FOR NL'S HELP ON STADIUM August 29, 1997
ALLEN VISITS ATLANTA SEEKING STADIUM IDEAS August 23, 1997
BIG STADIUM ROADBLOCK REMOVED July 25, 1997
STADIUM SIDES DEFINED July 11, 1997
STADIUM STANCES July 11, 1997
STADIUM MEETING TONE UPBEAT July 11, 1997
REDS PLAY DOWN SEAT LICENSES July 9, 1997
REDS CALL FOR SEAT LICENSES, RIVERFRONT SITE July 8, 1997
HIGHLIGHTS OF REDS' PROPOSAL July 8, 1997
REDS WANT GUARANTEE ON 2002 July 5, 1997
REDS SAY THEY NEED GOOD STADIUM DEAL TO COMPETE July 4, 1997
CITY, COUNTY FEUD OVER CONSULTANT July 4, 1997
REDS ASKED FOR $235M STADIUM July 3, 1997
'WEDGE' FOES DEMAND STADIUM STUDY July 2, 1997
'WEDGE' TO BE PUT TO THE TEST July 1, 1997
REDS UNMOVED BY PRICE GAP June 20, 1997
DOWLIN SAYS BROADWAY CAN SAVE $62 MILLION June 19, 1997
BALLPARK ESTIMATE: $230 MILLION June 11, 1997
RIVERFRONT SITE BETTER BET June 6, 1997
BROADWAY, 'WEDGE' ONLY OPTIONS LEFT? June 4, 1997
REDS RELENT ON WEST SITE June 3, 1997
NOTHING WILL DISLODGE REDS FROM RIVERFRONT Tim Sullivan column, June 3, 1997
REDS TO KENTUCKY? WHISPERS PERSIST May 31, 1997
NO DEAL WITH REDS SEEN BY JUNE 1 May 23, 1997
REDS EASE STANCE ON 'WEDGE' May 16, 1997
REDS MIGHT HAVE TO WAITMay 5, 1997
COSTS GOING UPMay 5, 1997
SCHOTT SAYS 'NO WAY' TO WEDGE April 12, 1997
SULLIVAN COLUMN April 12, 1997
CITY COULD PAY TO DELAY STADIUM April 10, 1997
BENGALS LEERY OF 'WEDGE' April 9, 1997

THE GREAT STADIUM DEBATE
BALLPARK DEBATE LINGERS ON April 6, 1997
NEIGHBORHOOD A BIG PART OF BALLPARK April 6, 1997
BALLPARK, FANS' HONEYMOON SHORT April 6, 1997
REDS HAVE HURDLES, HELP IN SITE HUNT April 6, 1997
KENTUCKY DESERVES REDS, TOOApril 6, 1997
BORGMAN CARTOON April 6, 1997

REDS PLAN SEAT LICENSING March 14, 1997
REDS TOLD BENGALS NOT PICKING SITE March 12, 1997
MAYOR SUPPORTS BROADWAY March 5, 1997
DESPITE FLOOD, REDS DON'T WAVER FROM RIVER March 5, 1997
BASEBALL ON MAIN PROPOSED Feb. 26, 1997
WEDGE SITE GETS BOOST FROM COUNTY Feb. 22, 1997
REDS, COUNTY RESUME STADIUM TALKS Feb. 19, 1997
ONLY CRIME IS NOT CONSIDERING BROADWAY Feb. 18, 1997
RIVER SITE OR LAWSUIT Feb. 15, 1997
REDS ARE READY TO PLAY HARDBALL Feb. 15, 1997
SCHOTT THREATENS TO MOVE IF REDS AREN'T ON RIVER Feb. 14, 1997