Saturday, December 13, 2003

Baseball stadium on schedule for Freedom's opening day

Concrete foundation has been poured

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FLORENCE - The new minor league baseball stadium is starting to take shape and is on schedule for the Florence Freedom's first season at home, team officials say.

The concrete foundation of the baseball stadium near Interstate 75 and U.S. 42 has been poured, said Louis Brinkley, project manager for the Freedom.

While the concrete was poured last week, the weather is slowing construction, he said.

"We're working on it," Brinkley said. "Unfortunately the weather is holding us up a little in trying to get a road paved in there."

The 4,500-seat stadium - called Tom Gill Field after the auto dealer who acquired naming rights - is slated to be ready for the Freedom's first game in May.

This week, utilities are being installed at the site. But grass for the field has not yet been planted because the field has been too wet, Brinkley said.

As of Friday, the team had sold 1,503 season tickets for the 2004 season. Though the stadium has 4,500 seats, it also will have a lawn and picnic area, bringing capacity to 7,000 people.

Season tickets for 45 games are $405 for VIP level, $360 for box, $315 for Club, and $270 for field. There are also lawn and picnic area tickets available.

Construction began this fall after the city bought the 30-acre site for $5 million. Northern Kentucky Professional Baseball is leasing the site from the city and is building the $7 million stadium.

The baseball ownership group will pay half the debt service on the bonds that were issued to buy the land as its lease payment. If the team defaults on the lease or folds, the city will own the stadium, according to the lease agreement.

Because the stadium was not ready last spring, the Freedom played its inaugural season in Hamilton at 2,000-seat Foundation Field.


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