Sunday, September 19, 1999

Sport just 1 aspect of River Front Classic

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        For Tammi Norman, Cincinnati's first River Front Classic was about friendship as much as football.

        “It's a chance to indulge in the black college experience,” she said.

        The Cleveland resident and senior at Kentucky State University, Frankfort, sang a little rhythm and blues, hip-hop and gospel for the large crowd that gathered Saturday afternoon on the plaza at Cinergy Field.

        People came to see a football game between Bethune-Cookman College and Howard University, but many ended up browsing at booths that carried everything from African artifacts to college football caps.

        “My family all went to black colleges and universities,” she said. “We attend the Circle Classic in Indianapolis. It's a great experience.”

        Organizers hope that Cincinnati's Classic will eventually rival the one held in Indianapolis, the second-largest such event in the country. Last year, the Circle City Classic generated an estimated $200 million for that city's economy, said John Pace Jr., the Classic's president and chief executive officer.

        River Front Classic is one of about 40 historical black college football classics held this year — the only one in Ohio.

        The Classic will contribute more than $350,000 to athletic departments of the black colleges and universities that play each year.

        Bernadette Kidd of Bond Hill and Gwen Armstrong of Forest Park attended the pregame festival on the plaza and worked in one of the booths.

        “You meet and greet,” Ms. Kidd said.

        “Do a lot of networking,” added Ms. Armstrong.

        “It's been a very nice turnout for the first (River Front Classic),” she said. “It gives you something to look forward to next year.”

        The Classic is supposed to influence education, economics and diversity, according to Mr. Pace.

        “The thousands of visitors attending the game are sure to have an economic impact on downtown business,” he said.


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