Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Ballpark changes eat $2.4M

County dips into emergency fund

By Dan Klepal, dklepal@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The budget for Great American Ball Park got a little tighter last month, but construction managers say they will finish the project within its $280 million limit.

        Hamilton County's contingency fund, or money set aside for emergencies, is down $2.4 million after a long list of change orders was processed last month.

        Chief among the changes was a sealant that was added to portions of the concrete inside the stadium so it does not stain when beer and soft drinks are spilled.

        Project Manager Arnie Rosenberg said the reserve is down to about $4 million with just over 60 percent of the construction complete.

        “Is the (reserve) adequate?” Mr. Rosenberg said. “I can't give you a 100 percent guarantee. But we believe it is.”

        County Commissioner Tom Neyer, who runs a construction company and watched Paul Brown Stadium balloon with cost overruns during the last year of that project, warned him to keep a close eye on the bottom line.

        “This is not a walk in the park,” Mr. Neyer said. “You can blow big contingency money late in a project. But there is a path from here to there.”

        County Commissioner Todd Portune said the project is entering a crucial time.

        “There is a risk that people will try to make money at the end of the project on change orders,” Mr. Portune said. “I don't want to see us use the reserve money just because it's there.”

        Thus far, the county has spent $271.9 million. The Reds have contributed $9.7 million.

        Most of the high steel work is complete, and just one more section of the precast concrete seating bowl in the upper deck has to be attached.

        Crews have also started installing the lowest level of the seating bowl. In the front row of these seats behind home plate, spectators will be closer to the batter than the pitcher is.

        “The ballpark is really taking shape,” Mr. Rosenberg said.


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