News: Hidden Reds Stadium Drawings Unveiled, Sort of

At last, the Reds stadium drawings kept hidden by the county since an April 7 architectural panel meeting were revealed to the media on April 28. Well, sort of. On April 28, a herd of information-

At last, the Reds stadium drawings kept hidden by the county since an April 7 architectural panel meeting were revealed to the media on April 28.

Well, sort of.

On April 28, a herd of information-hungry local news outlets did get a 45-minute look at the latest stadium architectural drawings (dated April 18) at the downtown headquarters of GBBN Architects. They included some long-awaited views of the Reds stadium's entrance, an angle generally absent from earlier drawings.

The views depict a crowded front entrance to the stadium, with a Reds museum and store parallel to Main Street, the Reds administration building parallel to a new Second Street and a narrow opening to the stadium plaza between the buildings. The latest drawings include revisions suggested by the city's Urban Design Review Board, a group of three architects and one businessperson that reviews the design of publicly funded projects.

But the April 28 drawings weren't the ones pursued by The Cincinnati Post, among others, through two formal (and other informal) public records requests. Those earlier drawings, which were critiqued at an April 7 closed meeting by the Urban Design Review Board, haven't been released.

At that meeting, the board recommended a list of 13 changes to earlier designs, some of which deal with the stadium's entrance, leading The Post and others to ask to see them. In response, County Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus has asked GBBN to prepare a full presentation of the stadium design by mid-May. Stadium spokesperson Brooke Hill wasn't sure if that deadline could be met but said the architects are working on it.

The April 28 press briefing, however, wasn't scheduled to meet those requests to see the drawings, as stated in an April 29 story in The Cincinnati Enquirer — the meeting simply was a regular update on the stadium design process, according to Hill. GBBN held a similar press briefing on March 1 to show off the then-latest Reds stadium drawings.

Bedinghaus said he understood the Urban Design Review Board was intended to operate privately so that the architects could vent their concerns more openly. The city of Cincinnati apparently wants the process opened, he said.

Bedinghaus said he doesn't mind the earlier drawings being released at the design unveiling as long as those earlier drawings still are related to the final design.

Speaking of public demand, GBBN Project Manager Chris Beghtel was given the unenviable task of trying to satisfy the skeptical group of reporters at the April 28 meeting. GBBN is a local partner of HOK Sport of Kansas City, Mo., the firm hired by the county to design the stadium.

There were more questions lobbed at Beghtel than he could handle, plus a couple of tense moments during the meeting. GBBN — perhaps unprepared for the crush of media attracted by the recent requests for public access — didn't have an easel to hold up the book of dozens of large black-and-white line drawings, making it harder for photographers to get a good view. This especially displeased a Post reporter, who at one point asked if Beghtel was trying to hide the designs from the public. A few moments later, they architects agreed to tack a few of the drawings to the conference room wall to provide a better view.

A couple of times Beghtel told reporters to stick to architectural questions, but when asked about certain design specifics he had a difficult time providing answers. Several times Beghtel told reporters with specific questions — such as how much brick the stadium facade would use — that the design is an ongoing process.

Beghtel also couldn't answer questions about how the county's $280 million stadium budget might be constricting the design, when he expected the design to be finished or when it would have to be finished to be ready for Opening Day 2003.

One of the few new pieces of information revealed at the press briefing was that the stadium's facade would include some brick, although Beghtel said it wasn't clear how much. ©