Thursday, August 16, 2001

This money belongs to Reds

Team will save if construction figures hold up

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] The plaza at night
(Architect's renderings)
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        The bad news for the Cincinnati Reds this summer is the team is in fifth place in the National League Central and can't win at home.

        The good news is that the new ballpark the team plans to occupy in 2003 is getting cheaper to build.

        Project managers for Great American Ball Park told Hamilton County commissioners Wednesday that the projected cost of the ballpark at completion was $282.3 million as of June 30 — $6.5 million less than the project was estimated to cost a month before.

        Less than a year ago, the projected cost of Great American Ball Park was about $300 million.

        “Many of the contracts for work at the ballpark have come in way under what we estimated, so that accounts for the drop,” said Arnie Rosenberg of Parsons Brinckerhoff, the firm hired by the county as construction manager.

        The good news for the Reds is that if the drop in the estimated cost of building Great American holds, the team will contribute fewer dollars to the construction of its new home.

[photo] The main concourse
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        Hamilton County's agreement with the Reds caps the county's participation in the project at $280 million; the Reds agreed to cover any costs over that amount.

        “It's progress,” said Commissioner Todd Portune of the report showing the estimated cost had dropped another $6.5 million. “It wasn't long ago that we were talking about a $300 million project.”

        The estimated cost could rise again, although project managers say that is unlikely.

        One problem is that construction has lagged behind schedule in two key areas — structural steel and concrete for the terrace level.

        Mr. Rosenberg said the work is expected to be back on schedule by mid-September.

        “The tenant is fully committed to the project and believes the ball park will be opened on schedule,” Mr. Rosenberg said.

        As of June 30, 78 percent of the contracts for construction work had been awarded, Mr. Rosenberg said.

        In June, the county commissioners hired an outside auditor — KPMG of New York — to track expenses related to the building of Great American Ball Park.


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