VIDEO: Progress Continues at $120M Smale Riverfront Park

The progress at the $120 million Smale Riverfront Park continues on-schedule and on-budget, according to the latest update from project manager Dave Prather.

Once the ongoing work is completed, the 45-acre park will be roughly 50 percent complete by 2015. The progress is critical as local officials are scrambling to finish several large development projects prior to the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be held at Great American Ball Park.

The two ongoing major phases of work at Smale Riverfront Park, Prather says, will be completed in time for the national spotlight in July 2015 when the MLB All-Star Game comes to Cincinnati.

Since the last project update the roundabout at the foot of the Roebling Suspension Bridge has been completed, allowing motorists to connect in all directions at the odd intersection. Foundation and sewer work has also progressed on the elements of the park now being built immediately west of the bridge.

“When we last left off we were just starting on the construction of our Vine Street carousel and fountain steps project,” Prather explained in the video. “Where before our project, phase one, related to Walnut Street, now we’re building the portion of the project that will complete the frame of the Roebling Suspension Bridge and connect with Vine Street.”

While Prather touts the continued success of the project, continued success may be difficult to achieve.

In March 2013 Prather told UrbanCincy that the ban on federal earmark spending has put future phases of work at the park in jeopardy. In order to make up for the lack of federal dollars, project officials have been relying heavily on state and local contributions. Private donations have also played an enormous role for the project as those dollar totals now exceed the projected totals for private contributions.

Further complicating the project is that it has proceeded along with development of The Banks. That mixed-use development is also running into schedule issues, due to the ban on federal earmarks, as funding has not yet been identified for garage and infrastructure work for future phases to be built adjacent to Paul Brown Stadium. Should that work be delayed past the intended schedule, it may also impact the construction schedule of the western portions of Smale Riverfront Park.

U.S. Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), who is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, will tour Smale Riverfront Park today at 4:30pm with Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls (D) and park officials.

Local leaders are hopeful that the visit will help position the park to receive water infrastructure support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through the next Water Resources Development Act, which is expected to be introduced soon.

If all goes according to plan, however, officials believe that Smale Riverfront Park can be completed by mid-2017.

Could Cincinnati host the 2014 Big East Basketball Tournament?

The 2014 Big East Basketball Tournament will be its last before the ‘Catholic 7’ take over and make the conference their own. This year’s tournament, which starts tonight at Madison Square Garden, will be its last in Midtown Manhattan. After that, league sources say that they will look to host the tournament in a new location with Cincinnati being one of the finalists for 2014. Could this be Cincinnati’s next major event following the World Choir Games and preceding the 2015 All-Star Game? More from ESPN:

The current Big East, which must have a new conference name by July 1, will be left with a 10-member league in 2013: Cincinnati, UConn, UCF, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, SMU, Temple and USF.

Louisville and Rutgers will remain in the league one more season before moving to the ACC and Big Ten, respectively, in 2014. The remaining Big East schools are considering new sites for next year’s tournament, including Hartford, Conn.; Memphis, Tenn.; Cincinnati and Dallas.

 

Will $25M cash payout from Big East fast-track Nippert Stadium renovation?

The University of Cincinnati has been trying mightily to get out of the collapsing Big East Conference, but its lack of options to-date might result in a big-time payout for its athletic program. With as much as $25 million in cash heading to Clifton, might this fast-track the $75 million renovation and expansion of Nippert Stadium? More from CBS Sports:

Big East leaders met Friday afternoon in Atlanta to discuss, among other things, the withdrawal of the Catholic 7. No deals regarding the new basketball-centric league or reported sale of the “Big East” name were finalized, but Blaudschun reports that the current “football faction” will have a cash fund of “close to $100 million for distribution.”

The $100 million total is a combination of nearly 70 million dollars the Big East has and will collect in exit fee money from schools that have left or have announced they are leaving and another total of approximately $30 million which will come to the Big East offices from the NCAA as “unit” shares for conference teams participation in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

San Francisco looking to create $1.6B mixed-use environment around AT&T Park

The San Francisco Giants are not only looking to remain on top of baseball following their World Series Championship, they are also looking to improve the environs surrounding one of the league’s most unique ballparks. Just as was the case in Cincinnati with the Reds, the Giants are leading the charge to redevelop a parking lot into a mixed-use attraction. More from the San Francisco Chronicle:

The plan to put the long-awaited $1.6 billion Mission Rock development on the cold, desolate parking lot across the channel from AT&T Park is nearly complete, and the prospective landlords couldn’t be happier.

The development, now scheduled to break ground in 2015, would put an entirely new neighborhood on the 16-acre waterfront site known as Seawall Lot 337, providing space for 2,000 residents, 7,000 workers and hordes of visitors to the area’s planned parks, restaurants, shops and attractions.

Cincinnati a changed city since Reds’ last playoff run

Those who haven’t been living under a rock for the past five years know that a lot has happened in Cincinnati’s center city during that time frame. On Sunday TBS’ announcers spoke highly of the transformation that has occurred in downtown Cincinnati since the Reds last playoff appearance in 2010, and with the eyes of the baseball world focused squarely on the city this evening, it seems as though the nation will get a front row seat to that progress. More from the Associated Press:

Less than two years ago, little more than a giant parking lot occupied the half-mile between the stadiums of the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals along the Ohio River.

After more than $600 million in new development between the two stadiums, there are now six distinct bars and restaurants, a popular riverfront park and high-end apartments that are touted as being “Cincinnati’s premier live-work-play destination” and charge rent in the thousands…A few blocks over is a new $322 million, 41-story office tower that’s the tallest building in the city, and a 20-minute walk away is the trendy Over-the-Rhine historic district that used to be best known as a haven for crime and the site of the city’s 2001 race riots. Now dozens of bedraggled buildings in the district have been renovated into popular bars and restaurants and a once crime-prone park has undergone a $48 million makeover to become one of the city’s best venues for concerts, outdoor movie viewings and flea markets.