Monday, June 04, 2001

Problems unresolved at stadium


Escalators, vents among items that need to be fixed

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[img]
Escalator from upper deck.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
        Bengals fans sitting in the upper suite levels of Paul Brown Stadium in bad weather won't have use of the two escalators, intended to shorten their walk from the plaza to their seats.

        The escalators will have to be shut down in times of snow and ice because of safety concerns.

        The problem is just one item that still needs to be resolved before Hamilton County gets approval to open the $451 million stadium for the 2001 season.

        The stadium operated under a temporary “certificate of occupancy” last year but must obtain a permanent certificate this year.

        It will be at least another month before construction workers are done putting the finishing touches on the facility — four months later than county officials had thought.

        The $51 million handed over by taxpayers to cover overruns should be enough to pay for the work, said Hamilton County Public Works Director Gary VanHart.

        The escalators were designed to have a roof — or a canopy — built over them so they could operate in bad weather. The canopies were removed from the design to save money.

        But the city won't issue a permanent certificate of occupancy until a locking gate system is installed that will keep fans off the escalators when they are not moving.

        “We think the money is there,” Mr. VanHart said. “We don't have a final solu tion to all of the issues, so I can't tell you positive. But we're pretty sure all the work will be covered.”

        The major issue still in need of a fix is venting in some of the concession stands. Exhaust grills at the front of some stands, coupled with winds in the south end zone, are not allowing proper dissipation of exhaust. That means carbon monoxide levels in the Level 3 concourse build up.

        Those concession stands were not used last year.

        Bill Langevin, the city's director of buildings and inspections, said the stadium is safe. He said the exhaust system is being redesigned.

        Mr. Langevin thinks the certificate of occupancy will be granted late this summer.

        Suzanne Burke, the county's budget director, said she thought the work would be wrapped up a long time ago.

        “It is frustrating,” she said. “But I think they're well aware of the issues ... and I believe everyone is committed to getting them resolved so it doesn't create a problem for the upcoming football season.”

       



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