Saturday, October 11, 1997
Reds lack Bengals' leverage
Bedinghaus: Stadium fight just looks bad

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hamilton County Commission President Bob Bedinghaus ended a tumultuous week of stadium news with a calming message for listeners of WCIN's weekday radio talk show Friday:

''It's never as bad as it seems.''

Mr. Bedinghaus told listeners the Reds' situation is different from that of the Bengals, which signed a lease deal with the county in May for a $400.3 million stadium complex.

''We've been working with the Reds,'' Mr. Bedinghaus said. ''But the Reds don't have the same leverage the Bengals had.''

While the county inherited a city commitment to build a new football stadium for the Bengals by August 2000, the Reds have no such promise, he said.

The Reds also lack the focus the Bengals had, he said. Mr. Bedinghaus joked that while Bengals General Manager Mike Brown can't seem to field a good offense or defense, ''he sure can negotiate a stadium lease.''

The Reds, on the other hand, don't appear to be anywhere close to signing a deal with the county.

Reds Managing Executive John Allen announced Monday morning the Reds would entertain stadium offers within the region but outside Hamilton County because of dissatisfaction with negotiations.

The commissioners responded that afternoon by telling the Reds to shop around. But commissioners said they doubt any other local community will have the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to build a new ballpark.

The county rejected the Reds' last offer, saying the team wanted more than that county is willing to give. The Reds, however, say they only want a deal comparable to what the Bengals got.

Mr. Allen and County Administrator David Krings have talked informally since the news conferences Monday, but this week brought no negotiation breakthrough.

WCIN listeners complained about the cost of the Bengals stadium, especially considering the Bengals will play there fewer than a dozen times during the regular season.

But Mr. Bedinghaus said the county envisions a professional soccer team playing in the stadium someday, which would keep it busy more days each year.

''Fifteen years from now, there will be more soccer games played in this facility than football games,'' he said.

He also argued the stadium cost increased because of the decision to move the stadium further west. That required the county to buy land, he said, but it also leaves room between the stadium and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge for other development.