Wednesday, March 5, 1997
Stadium plans still afloat
Broadway backer: It's 'field of streams'

The Cincinnati Enquirer

With Cinergy Field bracing against the worst flood of its life, Hamilton County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus defended the riverfront Tuesday as a possible site for Cincinnati's new stadiums.

Mr. Bedinghaus visited Cinergy three times Tuesday to check on the new $2 million AstroTurf field. He found no problems inside.

''I think (the flood) shows the river is a good spot,'' said Reds Managing Executive John Allen, who wants the Reds on the river. ''Look at what's happening now, and there are no problems. The garage is filled (with cars). We could have played a game.''

Mr. Bedinghaus said today will be the biggest test, as the flood crests. But with four pumps that have the capacity to churn out 24,000 gallons a minute, he expects the water to stay pretty much where it is - percolating under the floodgate and channeled into a basin in the service area.

Mr. Bedinghaus and the county haven't decided where to place a new Reds' ballpark, but he said flooding has not put Broadway Commons, well away from the water, ahead of the river options.

''A once-in-35-year event shouldn't change our minds about the river being an attractive place,'' Mr. Bedinghaus said.

''I'm assuming the same flood protection provided at Cinergy Field would be provided and the the technology 30 years later would make it better and easier. We've assumed that kind of infrastructure challenge at both locations (Broadway and on the river). Flood protection is unique to the river, as is the sewer situation at Broadway. I think it's a wash.''

Jim Tarbell, head of the ''Baseball on Broadway'' movement, said the flood shows just some of the engineering headaches involved in the riverfront site.

He called the riverfront a ''field of streams. If you build it, they can't come.''

The Bengals' practice fields at their new site of Central and Elm streets would have been under water this week. Officials said there are options for coping with that, such as elevating the practice fields, putting a floodwall around them, putting a parking deck under them, or maybe doing nothing and replace the fields every fifth year.

''The concern is heightened, but it's certainly not a new one. We've planned for this,'' said Troy Blackburn, the Bengals' director of stadium operations. ''You put the stadium in a bathtub at the 100-year flood level, and if you get a flood of biblical proportions, you do what everybody else does and head for higher land.''