Thursday, November 15, 2001

Ball park under budget

Contractor told to step up use of minority firms

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The new Reds ballpark and other riverfront improvements are $17 million under budget.

        Construction managers said Wednesday that the stadium is scheduled to open on time and under budget, although they still have concerns about change orders that two months ago took a $4.7 million chunk out of contingency funds.

[photo] The shape of the Reds' new park can be seen this week. This view looks west from the Firstar Center. On Wednesday, construction managers reported the project was on schedule.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        “The ballpark itself is now being projected back at the $280 million level, which is good news,” said Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune.

        “Their battle cry needs to be, "on time and under budget.' Today they delivered that. We need to stay on them closely.”

        In September, Mr. Portune said he was uncomfortable with reports that contingency funds might not cover the total cost of building the stadium, which is scheduled to open in April 2003.

        In a presentation to commissioners on Wednesday, Project Manager Arnie Rosenberg said his firm has reviewed costs and awarded more contracts, and that is providing a clearer picture of costs.

        In the past two months the shape of Great American Ball Park has become more prominent on the riverfront. Horizontal sections are now in place on risers that will support upper-deck seating. The garage is being built in four sections along Second Street.

        “As we sit here today, at least, the forecast is $17 million under budget,” Mr. Portune said. “They've put things back on a positive trend.”

        But the issue for commissioners was less about how much the project was costing than it was about who is being paid.

        The monthly status report shows dips in contracts to minority and women-owned businesses. Commissioners said they were concerned about the trends and promised to enforce economic sanctions against employers who don't meet contract goals.

        Commissioner Tom Neyer said he supported “a hammer” against companies who failed to meet required percentages.

        Mr. Rosenberg stressed that minorities are still getting more than 15 percent of the contracts on the stadium and related projects. But he said the county has no mandates about minorities. The county does require 15 percent of contracts to go to small businesses.

        But commissioners said minority participation was integral.

        “We will withhold money,” Mr. Portune said.

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