Monday, March 26, 2001

The arena we love to hate

        Be careful when you open your voice mail. Someone may be tossing a wrecking ball at the Firstar Center.

        “Any way I can be the first person to help knock down that stupid building?” — David Klingshirn, downtown.

        “That ugly thing ruins everyone's view of downtown. They should have wrecked it two days after they started putting it up.” — Chickie Zoller, Milford.

        “Knock it down after the Billy Joel-Elton John concert in May. If this 30-something mommy doesn't see those two men, she may completely lose it.” — Elise Seibt, Covington.

        These readers were responding to my column calling for the leveling of the debt-ridden Firstar Center. (March 19 column). Crowding the site of the Reds' new stadium, the arena is old, ugly and outmoded. Replace it with a new, larger structure connected to the convention center.

        Sentiment ran 20-to-1 in favor of ridding the riverfront of the eyesore. Jeff Reynolds delivered the minority opinion from Covington: “It's not an eyesore. I have over 200 concert (ticket) stubs mostly from there. You got your start on concert reviews. You should have great memories of the white elephant. Rock on.”

        Sorry. Majority rules.

        “Don't wreck the Firstar Center. Implode it the first time a Reds' home-run ball goes over the fence at Cinergy Field. Much better than fireworks.” — George Haggis, Walnut Hills.

        Marvin Rugg phoned in a pat on the back from Colerain Township:

        “Good idea about wrecking the Firstar Center, building a new arena and connecting it to the convention center. You ought to be the mayor.”

        Thanks. But I never wanted to run away from home and join the circus.

Like Mike
               Michael Jordan is in good company. After I wrote a column about the retired basketball star's rumored return to the NBA, readers sent in names of local high-achievers they'd like to see on the comeback trail. (March 16 column).

        • Tyrone Yates — “His integrity is sorely missed and needed on City Council.” Coleen Tracey, downtown.

        • Thane Maynard — “The Cincinnati Zoo's cheerleader.” Cathryn Hilker, Mason.

        • Henri Frazier — “Super with the kids and parents as the principal of Pleasant Hill School.” Sue MacDonald, College Hill.

        • Frank Knapke — “He played Santa Claus at Children's Hospital.” Bill Mays, West Chester Township.

        • Bishop Emerson S. Colaw — “Pastor at Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church (1961-80), elected bishop in 1980, missed by both his local congregation and the wider community for his many-faceted leadership and teaching.” Robert L. Williams, Hyde Park.

Marge Stricker, RIP
               George Stricker lost his wife, Marge, in the early morning hours of March 5. The Hamilton couple had been married for 64 years.

        “She opened her eyes,” he said, “looked up at me, then at heaven, took two deep breaths and was gone.”

        On Valentine's Day, I wrote about George's devotion to Marge (Feb. 14 column). For the past 12 years, he cared for her — washing her clothes, feeding her, giving kisses — as she slipped into the emptiness of Alzheimer's.

        George plans to keep busy. “I'm going to volunteer at the St. Vincent DePaul Society,” he told me.

        “Marge wouldn't want me to sit around the house watching TV. If she caught me doing that, she'd hit me in the head.”

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at (513) 768-8379; fax 768-8340.


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