Saturday, November 23, 2002

Want to blow up Cinergy Field? Buy a ticket for the chance

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

On the morning of Dec. 29, one lucky winner of a United Way fund-raising raffle will stand in the O'Rourke Wrecking Co. control room and push a button that will send the walls of Cinergy Field tumbling down.

Sort of.

"It will be a symbolic button," said Mike O'Rourke, president of the company hired by Hamilton County to implode the 32-year-old stadium. "But, for the winner, it will feel like he is bringing it down."

Friday, Hamilton County commissioners and O'Rourke Wrecking announced plans for a raffle - with tickets going for $10 each - to raise money for the United Way and Community Chest.

United Way officials are not sure how much can be raised through the raffle tickets, but three years ago, when Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh was imploded, a similar plan raised about $100,000 for charity.

The winner, to be chosen randomly at the Dec. 18 county commissioners' meeting, will get the opportunity to trigger the implosion O'Rourke officials say will turn the former home of the Reds and Bengals into a pile of concrete and steel in 37 seconds.

The act, Mr. O'Rourke said, has to be symbolic "for liability and safety reasons."

The second-place winner will perform the countdown of the last 10 seconds, while third- and fourth-place winners will get eight tickets each to the VIP viewing area at Paul Brown Stadium.

John Dyass, United Way's vice president for financial resource development, said entry forms will be available beginning Tuesday at the agency's Web site.

Entries should be returned to the United Way's office at 2400 Reading Road, Cincinnati 45202 with a $10 check or money order. The fee can be paid online by credit card.

The commissioners and O'Rourke Wrecking decided to makeUnited Way the beneficiary of the fund-raiser after United Way fell about $1 million short of its fall goal.

The raffle, said County Commissioner John Dowlin, is certain to appeal to the public.

"If you were a kid like me, you always had a secret desire to blow something up," Mr. Dowlin said.


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