Then: In December 1996, Hamilton County was up in arms about where to put the new baseball stadium. People had flocked to the polls to support the half-cent sales tax increase to build two new stadiums but were divided over where to put the Reds' new home. Jim Tarbell, then-owner of Arnold's Bar and Grill, spearheaded "Baseball on Broadway," the campaign to bring the stadium to the Broadway Commons area and thus transform acres of parking spaces into a sparkplug for Over-the-Rhine development. County leaders, though, were set on both stadiums on the riverfront. (Issue of Dec. 12, 1996)
Now: The Reds have finished their first season at Great American Ballpark, which was wedged squarely between Cinergy Field and U.S. Bank Arena. Broadway Commons is still a parking lot. And Jim Tarbell is on city council, working overtime to breathe new life into Over-the-Rhine and make it a viable arts and culture center.
"As a result of that terrible decision," Tarbell says, "I ran for council. That was the straw that broke the camel's back."
Tarbell didn't win his 1997 campaign for a council seat, but when Bobbie Stern resigned her post early he was asked to fill in. He's been there since.
"I can't lay claim to anything major," Tarbell says, "other than the Arts and Culture Committee. I hope to remain involved and have an influence there."
He sighs while bemoaning the lack of green space downtown and still hopes that Broadway Commons can be something more than a parking lot.
"It's on the edge of Mount Adams, Over-the-Rhine and the expressway," he says. "Broadway is right in the middle of all of that, the largest, most conspicuous properties." He'd like to see the area as a mixed-use development with a focus on housing but states that "developers can't reach an agreement with the owners."
And the county can't raise enough tax revenue to get The Banks going, stalling the very reason to put the Reds on the riverfront in the first place.
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