Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Reds' ballpark done within budget



By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Great American Ball Park is open for business.

Hamilton County, owner of the 42,000-seat ballpark, has received a temporary occupancy permit for it, according to Mike Sieving, the executive overseeing construction for the county.

That means the Cincinnati Reds can start moving in computers and television monitors and begin on-site training for vendors.

Unlike the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium, the ballpark came in on time and within budget, county Commissioner Todd Portune noted.

"It's a great thing for the taxpayers," he said Monday. "Hopefully this begins a process toward restoring public trust and confidence in the county."

The county's cost for the $290.5 million ballpark is $279.3 million, according to project manager Arnie Rosenberg - just under the $280 million the county budgeted. The Reds have paid $11.2 million for items such as grass for the field and food-service equipment.

The temporary occupancy permit paves the way for the Reds to open Great American on March 28 with an exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians.

However, it doesn't mean the construction workers have cleared out just yet, Sieving said. Crews will be taking care of paint touch-up, guardrail installation and miscellaneous repairs.

"This month is sort of a coexistence month," Sieving said.

The county won't really be finished with construction until late 2004. The ballpark is only phase I; phase II includes the plaza, parking garage and new roadways.

E-mail candrews@enquirer.com

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