BY LUCY MAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Hamilton County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus says he would support a renovation of Cinergy Field before he'd agree to a Reds ballpark at Broadway Commons.
Commission President Tom Neyer Jr., the swing vote on the ballpark decision, won't say that.
But he agrees that if voters approve the creation of a county charter in order to get a new ballpark at Broadway, that's no guarantee a stadium will be built at Broadway and Reading Road.
"If the charter proposition passes, then all bets are off," he said.
Those statements show how the Nov. 3 vote isn't as simple as letting voters pick the stadium site.
In fact, a win at the ballot box for Broadway likely would lead to more uncertainty on the stadium issue because the seemingly straightforward question -- where to build the ballpark -- is tangled up in a jumble of legal complexities.
Broadway backers insist if a majority of Hamilton County voters adopt a county charter that requires commissioners to build at Broadway and Reading Road, that's what will happen.
But the Reds and county have a preliminary deal to build a new stadium at the rival riverfront site west of the Crown, known as Baseball on Main or the "Wedge."
That deal isn't legally binding, but the team's current lease to play in Cinergy Field is. If the Broadway measure wins and the team continues to reject the Broadway site, the Reds could opt to stay in Cinergy Field.
Mr. Bedinghaus, a proponent of the riverfront site for a new stadium, said he favors Baseball on Main over a Cinergy renovation because a renovation wouldn't save much money and it would hurt plans for riverfront parks.
"Put in a corner, though, where my only option is renovation of Cinergy Field or building at Broadway, I'd go with Cinergy Field," he said.
County Commissioner John Dowlin is the lone Broadway backer among the three commissioners. "To me, the no-brainer is you go to a new ballpark at Broadway," Mr. Dowlin said.
Mr. Dowlin doesn't think anything in the language used on the Broadway Commons petitions would prohibit a Cinergy Field renovation, but that's clearly not what the Broadway group wants, he said.
"I think you either continue to play at Cinergy Field as it is or build new," he said.
But Mr. Dowlin said he wouldn't be surprised if proponents of the riverfront pull out the stops to block Broadway if Broadway wins in November.
Pro-Broadway candidate Marilyn Hyland, the Democrat opposing Mr. Neyer, said she doesn't think a Cinergy renovation is a fallback position that makes sense for economic development downtown. She argues that's why the safest bet for Broadway backers is to vote for her, too, Nov. 3, and if she's elected, she'll work with Mr. Dowlin to build the ballpark at Broadway.
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