BY LUCY MAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
In a conference room overlooking Cinergy Field, proponents of a new riverfront ballpark explained Thursday why they think the Reds' future home should be next to its current address.
Wedge or 'Baseball on Main' plan
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The bottom line of architect Michael Schuster's presentation: The riverfront site known as Baseball on Main, or the "Wedge," is better than people think, and its rival site at Broadway and Reading Road, known as Broadway Commons, isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Mr. Schuster showed drawings with the footprint of other stadiums, such as Chicago's Wrigley Field or Baltimore's Camden Yards, on each of the sites. In each case, the stadium footprint was bigger than the Broadway Commons site but fit snugly in the Wedge.
"Both sites create opportunities. Both sites create technical issues," Mr. Schuster said.
Broadway backers who attended the news conference scoffed at Mr. Schuster's presentation, saying he was manipulating graphics to make Broadway look bad because the uptown site has more public support.
An architect's drawings showed that Jacobs Field wouldn't fit into Broadway Commons ...
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but would fit into the Wedge site.
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"I guess when you're scared you start grasping at straws and criticizing the other plan," said restaurant owner Jim Tarbell, Broadway's biggest booster. "You can design (a ballpark) right now that fits fine and works fine for this community."
Mr. Schuster stressed he isn't out to bash Broadway. He said he wants the public to understand that while building at the Wedge is complex, building at Broadway has its own set of problems.
Emotions are running high as the Reds and Hamilton County close in on a stadium deal. The team and county have been talking exclusively about a riverfront ballpark.
During Wednesday's owners' meeting in Seattle, Major League Baseball's ruling executive council was told an announcement for the Reds' stadium agreement is days away if talks stay on course. Hamilton County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus favors the riverfront site, while Commissioner John Dowlin prefers Broadway. Commission President Tom Neyer Jr. has said he'll vote for a riverfront deal if the team and county reach agreement.
Mr. Bedinghaus lauded Mr. Schuster's image of the riverfront Thursday as one that could be "the envy of cities around the world." But Commission candidate Marilyn Hyland, a Broadway backer, called the Wedge "a raid on the central riverfront real estate." If elected, Ms. Hyland said she will vote to halt any work on the Wedge that is begun.
Mr. Bedinghaus and Mr. Dowlin will meet today with representatives of HOK Sports Facilities Group, a premier ballpark design firm, and Huber, Hunt & Nichols, an Indianapolis firm that oversaw construction of Riverfront Stadium. The firms reviewed the site Thursday and have said that a stadium can be built there.
Building at the Wedge is complex because part of Cinergy Field's garage and 5,000 to 6,000 seats would have to be removed during construction. The ballpark would sit about 180 feet away from The Crown at its closest point and would likely open in 2003, Mr. Schuster said.
Mr. Schuster stressed he isn't being paid for his work and isn't working for the county. He said he'd love to help design the new ballpark if asked, but that's not why he keeps making a case for Baseball on Main.
Geoff Hobson contributed to this report.
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