Tuesday, February 18, 2003

County balks on putting Brennaman's refrain on ballpark

By John Erardi
and Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Great American Ball Park is "Rounding third and heading for home."

But passersby will never see, "And this one belongs to the Reds" - not if some Hamilton County officials get their way.

Anybody who follows the Reds via radio knows that the two phrases are the signature lines of Reds radio broadcasters Joe Nuxhall and Marty Brennaman, who are entering their 30th season together.

The Reds wanted to display both phrases somewhere on their new ballpark, and Nuxhall's "Rounding third and heading for home" is already written in red neon lights, visible to anyone who passes by.

But Nuxie's partner apparently won't get to see his words in neon, said John Allen, the Reds' chief operations officer..

The response from the county was, " `No, you can't put that up there. It doesn't belong to the Reds. It belongs to Hamilton County,' " Allen said. "I'm not being critical. I fully understand (why) the checks and balances are all necessary. It's $250 million of taxpayer money."

But Brennaman called the county's decision "the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of. It's not as though I started using that phrase last year.

"I've been using it for 29 seasons. Anybody who's a Reds fan knows (that line) is my signature phrase. For (the county) to say people are going to confuse my phrase with the Reds (making a claim) that the ballpark belongs to them is ridiculous. ... It's indicative of the small-town thinking (being done by the county).

"I say, `And this one belongs to the Reds,' not `This ballpark belongs to the Reds," Brennaman added.

County Administrator David Krings said Monday that he didn't know the Reds wanted such a sign and doesn't know who vetoed it. Still, he said, the rationale "does make sense."

Commissioner Phil Heimlich, on the other hand, said: "It seems like a nice way to honor Marty and Joe. I have no problem with it."

Public funding of sports stadiums is a touchy subject in Hamilton County, where residents are still fuming at the deal the Bengals got on Paul Brown Stadium.

However, the Reds are paying for many of the extras at Great American Ball Park, Allen pointed out.

That includes the public art - two mosaic murals, a bas-relief and four statues of ballplayers.

The Reds wanted to do justice to the history of the franchise and the look of the ballpark, he said, so they picked up the costs themselves.

"We didn't want a blasČ (ballpark)," Allen said. "We kept the money in Cincinnati and we used Cincinnati people."

E-mail jerardi@enquirer.com and candrews@enquirer.com

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