Thursday, December 26, 2002

Implosion means lights out for Cinergy Field signs


3 days until detonation

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cinergy paid $6 million for the privilege of having its name in lights on the former Riverfront Stadium since 1996, but as of Sunday, the lighted banners will turn into rubble.

Sunday, when Cinergy Field implodes, the signs that have identified it for the past six years go down, too.

"There's no way to save them,'' Mike O'Rourke president of O'Rourke Wrecking Co., said of the 50-foot red-and-blue Cinergy Field signs that adorn the upper-deck facades. "They're just too big.''

They have been there since Sept. 9, 1996, the day when Cinergy, Cincinnati's electric utility company, announced it was paying $6 million for the naming rights to the structure that had been known as Riverfront Stadium since its opening in June 1970.

It took a lot of Reds and Bengals fans some time to get used to calling the circular stadium by its new name; Reds radio announcer Joe Nuxhall resisted the change at first, but finally went along with it.

But on the broadcast of the Reds final Cinergy Field game Sept. 22, play-by-play announcer Marty Brennaman spoke for his radio booth partner when he said that, in the hearts of Reds fans, the place "always has and always will be Riverfront Stadium.''

The Cinergy Field signs now belong to O'Rourke Wrecking, as does everything else in the old ballpark. By the time O'Rourke clears the site next summer, the demolition company will have sold 40,000 seats, the dugouts, pieces of turf, hundreds of broken bats and the retired-number jerseys that used to hang on the left field wall. But the signs that identified the place will go down with the ship.

"Nobody's expressed any interest in them,'' Mr. O'Rourke said. "And there's nothing else we can do with them.''

E-mail hwilkinson@enquirer.com




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