BY JOHN HOPKINS and LUCY MAY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Baseball fans would have to pay more for parking and park farther away from a new Reds stadium if the ballpark is built at Broadway Commons instead of on the riverfront, a new study concludes.
The study by Central Parking System also concludes a ballpark at Broadway would create fewer spaces overall for downtown. The study was released Thursday and immediately challenged by Broadway backers.
The issue of parking at a new stadium has become one of the sharply contested elements in the debate over Issue 11, which is on the Nov. 3 ballot in Hamilton County.
The measure asks voters to create a county charter that would require any new Reds ballpark be built at Broadway Commons. Riverfront backers argue passage of Issue 11 would lead to lawsuits.
Central Parking General Manager Jeff Jones said the study wasn't done to try to push a site.
"I personally would like to see it on the river, but that wasn't the point of this. The point was to say, "Here are the facts,' " he said.
The study also concluded that the riverfront ballpark's parking plan would add 3,000 spaces downtown. The Broadway parking plan could add 528 spaces to downtown's supply, but only if an eight- or nine-story garage is built next to the ballpark.
Broadway backers question the study's premise that based on the ratio of fans to parking spaces at Cinergy Field, a total of 18,292 parking spaces is needed to accommodate a 45,000-seat ballpark.
"It's absolutely not true," said Robert Fredericks, assistant to Hamilton County Commissioner John Dowlin, a Broadway backer. "There are 15,000 parking spaces around Broadway Commons. I won't answer every single one of their allegations, but their parking proposal assumes every single person that comes to a Reds baseball game, comes in an automobile. That's ridiculous."
Mr. Fredericks said that at the Broadway Commons location the county need build only 1,500 parking spaces with government tax money. "The rest are already there," he said.
John Schneider, chairman of the pro-riverfront Move Greater Cincinnati Forward campaign, said parking near Broadway Commons also would be used by patrons of the Aronoff Center, the Main Street entertainment district and the library.
That, he said, would put a dent in the number of spaces that would actually be available for baseball fans.
Nonetheless, Broadway backers argue that their site is a better parking choice and significantly cheaper.
Mr. Fredericks said it would cost $39 million to build parking structures for the Reds on the riverfront.
"The amount needed for Broadway Commons -- one little garage -- is $12.75 million," he said. "The difference is $26.6 million. That's the key to this whole thing."
The Broadway site is at Broadway and Reading Road, on the northeastern edge of the central business district.
The riverfront site, known as Baseball on Main or the "Wedge," sits just west of the Crown and would overlap Cinergy Field's current footprint during construction.
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