Wednesday, August 29, 2001

County invites Graham crusade

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County officials are negotiating to bring evangelist Billy Graham to Paul Brown Stadium next June. The Rev. Mr. Graham's crusade would be the first non-football event held in the new, $450 million facility.

        Suzanne Burke, director of the county's Department of Administrative Services, said the stadium's main tenant — the Cincinnati Bengals — are in support of the multiday event.

        “Those are the types of events we want to secure to increase the use of the facility,” Ms. Burke said. “The county and the Bengals have both approved of the idea in concept.”

Courier-Journal coverage of his Louisville crusade last June
        Commission President John Dowlin wrote to the Rev. Mr. Graham this month, urging him to come to the city and help with racial healing.

        “Our city/county has been in the news with great racial unrest, and I believe, on a personal basis, that Christ through his earthly servants is the answer to our problems,”
Mr. Dowlin's letter says.

        “Please do include Cincinnati in your plan for 2002,” the letter said.

        The county and Bengals would split any rental fee generated by a Graham cru sade.

        Ms. Burke said it's difficult to say how much that would be, but estimated it likely would hit $100,000.

        The Rev. Mr. Graham is putting on an October crusade in Fresno, Calif. Ms. Burke said she likely will send county staff to that event to watch operations.

        The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association declined to comment.


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