Thursday, December 21, 2000

Reds park contracts OK'd

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Great American Ball Park is already costing more than anticipated, but this time, unlike with Paul Brown Stadium, the taxpayers aren't left holding the entire extra tab.

        Hamilton County commissioners Wednesday accepted a $33.6 million bid — more than $5 million over the county's budget — for the structural steel at the Reds' new home. In addition, commissioners accepted a $12.4 million contract for precast concrete that exceeds the budget by $400,000.

[photo] Work proceeds this week on Great American Ball Park, next to Cinergy Field.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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        The difference is being made up in a number of ways:

        • The Reds will pay for some items in the ballpark, such as the bronze Crosley Field-era player statues in the stadium's entrance, which originally were to be paid for by taxpayers.

        • The county will use approximately 15 percent of its contingency fund to cover the higher bids and additional expenses racked up by the architects, HOK Sport.

        • More than $800,000 in savings from other contracts will be used to defray the higher cost of the steel and precast concrete.

        County taxpayers are still officially contributing $280 million, the amount negotiated into the Reds' lease agreement in January.

        Hamilton County Commissioner Tom Neyer wasn't pleased with the news. But he agreed to the contracts, and to the Reds picking up some of the expenses.

        “Just as long as the stadium isn't cheapened,” Mr. Neyer said.

        Project Manager Arnie Rosen berg said the steel came in much higher than expected because there is about 25 percent more steel being used than estimated. The design of the light towers was changed to make them more sturdy.

        Structural engineers became concerned that the ballpark's light towers in the open-ended stadium needed more reinforcement to guard against the wind.

        “That's one of the primary rea sons the steel increased dramatically,” Mr. Rosenberg said.

        Mr. Neyer said he approved the contract because steel isn't getting cheaper and the project needs to stay on schedule.

        “Somehow there was a bust in the project quantities,” Mr. Neyer said. “We blew (the steel quantity estimate) by 25 percent, and it would have been better to know that earlier in the project.”

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