Friday, December 13, 2002

On sale: Chance to blow up stadium

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

So far, the odds of winning the United Way raffle for a chance to push the button to implode Cinergy Field are pretty good.

One in 766, as of Thursday morning.

That is how many $10 tickets United Way had sold in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. One lucky person will get to be in the control room Dec. 29 when O'Rourke Wrecking Co. brings the 32-year-old stadium tumbling down.

But United Way officials hope to do much better between now and the deadline, the end of the business day Monday.

"I've never had a projection on how many we would sell; we never had a clue,'' said John Dyess, United Way's vice president for financial resource development.

Hamilton County commissioners and O'Rourke came up with the idea to help United Way, which fell about $1 million short of its fund-raising goal this fall. When Three Rivers Stadiuim in Pittsburgh came down three years ago, a similar charity effort raised about $100,000.

The winners' names will be drawn at a Hamilton County commissioners' meeting next week.

Two third-place winners will be given eight tickets each for the Dec. 29 implosion, with seats inside the VIP viewing area at Paul Brown Stadium. A second-place winner will give the final countdown leading up to the 8 a.m. implosion.

The first-place winner will be in the O'Rourke control room with company president Mike O'Rourke and will push a button that will trigger the 37-second process of turning Cinergy into rubble.

But O'Rourke officials say the winner's role will be symbolic for safety and liability reasons. The real detonating will be done by O'Rourke employees.

United Way officials said that 619 of the 766 raffle tickets sold as of Thursday morning were sold on the United Way Web site.

Entry blanks are also available at any branch of US Bank, Key Bank and Provident Bank, all Thriftway stores and at any of the United Way's offices in Cincinnati, Middletown, Florence and Batavia.

The entry blanks must be returned to the United Way office at 2400 Reading Road, Cincinnati 45202, by the end of business Monday.


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