Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Reds surrender in Cinergy turf war

Artificial surface will stay on field

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The turf war between the Bengals and Reds at Cinergy Field is officially over.

        Reds Managing Executive John Allen said Tuesday he has given up any hope of getting the Bengals' consent for the installation of a natural grass surface at Cinergy next year.

        That likely will mean the Reds, who move into a new ballpark in 2003, will play their remaining three years at Cinergy on artificial turf.

        “There is no hope of having grass installed. None at all,” Mr. Allen said.

        Grass would have to be installed — at a cost to the Reds of about $1 million — before other changes to the field were made. The Reds are moving home plate and bringing in the outfield fence next year.

        There's no time left to lay the grass before those changes are made, Mr. Allen said.

        Players prefer natural grass because it is easier on their legs and knees. The new baseball stadium will have grass. Although the Bengals will move into their new home next summer, any Cinergy Field changes require agreement from the Bengals.

        Bengals President Mike Brown has said he's against the change because the new stadium might not be ready on schedule, forcing the Bengals to play one or more preseason games at Cinergy.

        But Hamilton County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus said the disagreement is more about the Reds playing a home game the same day Paul Brown Stadium opens.

        “I think that argument is bogus,” Mr. Bedinghaus said. “This has always been about the Bengals holding out every little bit of leverage they have to accomplish something unre lated to the field issue.”

        Jack Brennan, Bengals director of public relations, said Tuesday the team's stance hasn't changed — the team is still concerned about the quality of the field should the new football stadium not be finished on time.

        Meanwhile, Mr. Allen said the Reds will consider installing grass for the 2001 and 2002 seasons.

        “There will have to be a cost-benefit analysis. Is the cost worth a two-year benefit?” Mr. Allen said. “It's highly unlikely.”


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