Thursday, August 23, 2001

'01 game could be last Classic

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Riverfront Classic, a college football game pitting historically black universities, will be played as scheduled on Sept. 15.

        But the game's long-term future in Cincinnati is still in jeopardy because of limitations on advertising and luxury suite revenue at Paul Brown Stadium, said John Pace, the event's president and chief executive officer.

        Mr. Pace has said for months that moving the game from Cinergy Field to the new stadium would cost his organization dearly.

        Hamilton County officials are demanding a $40,000 security deposit from the Classic because it has been late in paying past bills.

        In addition, the Bengals control all advertising at the stadium. That means the Classic cannot give scoreboard time to its sponsors, nor erect advertising signs.

        The sale of private suites also has been an issue because the Bengals get all of that revenue.

        The Classic's main sponsor, Procter & Gamble Co.,came to the rescue with the security deposit. But the other issues are still being discussed.

        Regardless, the game will be played this year.

        “We have reached an agreement with the Bengals and Hamilton County where we feel it was sufficient to move forward this year,” Mr. Pace said. “But the future of the Classic continues to be threatened until such a time where we make progress with the Bengals.”

        Mr. Pace said Cincinnati is competing with similar Classic games played in Indianapolis, Chicago, St. Louis and elsewhere. His organization has to please sponsors to make the game financially viable in Cincinnati, he said.

        The Classic also incorporates a weekend of educational events. Fifth Third Bank has contributed $50,000 for the education summit and college fair.


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