Friday, February 01, 2002

Ballpark's past 2nd base


Tour shows progress on new stadium

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Building Great American Ball Park has been easier than Cinergy Field — at least it's been easier on Tyrone Heinmiller's shoes.

        Mr. Heinmiller, the project executive for Hunt Construction Group, wore out two pairs of boots in 10 weeks of work on Riverfront Stadium in 1969. He's gone through just two pairs of boots in nearly two years at the new ballpark.

        “We used to walk our shoes off at Riverfront,” Mr. Heinmiller said. “Nowadays, if it doesn't have a motor, we don't use it.”

        Electric carts allow construction managers to zip around the site; electric drills and hammers make workers more efficient.

        Mr. Heinmiller was walking his boots off on Thursday, when he gave the media its first close-up look at the $280 million stadium's innards. An additional $40 million is being spent on infrastructure upgrades for the stadium.

        The ballpark — on schedule and on budget — is rising at remarkable speed. Among the progress:

        • Permanent power will be switched on April 1.

        • Boilers, water heaters and chillers have been installed, along with much of the piping that will carry hot and cold water inside the facility.

        • Cranes will be off the playing field in August, allowing the Reds to begin installing the irrigation and drainage system for the field.

        • Vomitories, those openings in the concrete seating bowl fans walk through to go to the concourses, are clearly visible in the left field stands.

        • The “notch” to the third-base side of home plate is likewise visible in the erected steel, with bridges connecting the steel on either side. The notch is a cutout in the stadium's frame that will give fans a view of downtown and allow people downtown a glimpse inside the ballpark. The bridges will provide standing-room views.

        Mr. Heinmiller said the notch is a unique feature that allows the seating bowl to be about 15 feet closer to the field than if the massive steel structure were one continuous piece.

        John Allen, the Reds chief operations officer, sees nothing but beauty in all the mud, water, exposed pipes and wires.

        “This is the fun part,” Mr. Allen said. “I've been involved with this project since the fall of 1995, and it's great to finally see it coming up out of the ground.”

        Among the milestones still to be reached in the first three months this year: Erecting the huge white light towers, which are lying in the infield; placing the brick facade on the Reds' Administration Building; topping out the ballpark with the last of the steel.

        Great American Ball Park will be Mr. Heinmiller's third — and last — stadium.

        “When they start tearing down buildings you built and replacing them with new ones, it's time to quit,” he said. “I'm very proud of that old stadium. This one will be better.”

       



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