Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Parking lot cost up $400,000

By By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It is going to cost taxpayers $400,000 more than originally planned to prepare a city parking lot for the Bengals' Aug. 19 opener.

        City officials deny it's a cost overrun associated with the stadium project, and say the parking lot has very little to do with the football team.

        “That's hogwash,” said Councilman Todd Portune. “Now we're getting in the business of cost overruns just to meet the game-day haste for the Bengals.”

        Football is the only reason the Crossett site — just north of the Bengals' riverfront practice field — is being developed into a parking lot, he said.

        Assistant City Manager Richard Mendes said that's not true, that the city needs downtown parking every day and that providing stadium parking counts for only 10 games a year.

        He acknowledged that the city is using the site to help the county meet its contractual obligation to provide parking for the new stadium. But he said only 52 spaces need to be finished by the stadium's opening. Another 478 spaces, according to a contract with Hamilton County, are required to be finished by Dec. 1.

        The city agreed to a five-year contract with the county on the Crossett site in order to move planned stadium parking away from the riverfront and make room for the Banks development — a massive project to transform the riverfront into a residential and entertainment district.

        The original budget was for $2 million, but officials are asking that another $400,000 be added to pay for storm sewer and lighting systems, demolition of existing structures and other unanticipated costs.


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