12/29/2002 11:22 am ET
Cinergy Field comes down
By Jeff Wallner / Special to MLB.com
Watch the implosion
CINCINNATI -- Cinergy Field is now a thing of the past.
The stadium that played host to five World Series, two All-Star Games, Pete Rose's record 4,192nd hit, Tom
Browning's perfect game and many other memorable moments in Cincinnati Reds history, was imploded Sunday
"It's hard to see it come down," said longtime Reds radio announcer Joe Nuxhall. "But we're going to be playing in a baseball stadium now, not a football stadium."
The Reds are scheduled to begin playing in the new Great American Ball Park in March.
Riverfront Stadium opened in 1970 and was renamed Cinergy Field in 1996. In its three decades of existence, the circular stadium welcomed more than 64 million fans through its gates.
The structure was packed with approximately 2,000 pounds of explosives that wrote
the final chapter in the history of Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field. In less than 38
seconds, Cinergy Field plummeted to the earth, leaving only the countless memories behind.
In many ways, the Big Red Machine era of the 1970s helped define the stadium's history.
For members of those great Reds teams, emotions over the demise of the stadium are
"It's just concrete and steel," said Reds Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench. "You
remember the players and think of the great things they provided us."
Reds Hall of Fame first baseman Tony Perez, on the other hand, will always remember
what the stadium meant to the Reds franchise. "It's very sad to see [Riverfront
Stadium/Cinergy Field] go down," Perez said. "But something new is always coming and
we're very excited about that."
Former Reds owner Marge Schott shared in much of the Reds' recent history, most memorably Pete Rose's record-breaking hit to eclipse Ty Cobb as baseball's all-time hits leader. "There are a lot of wonderful memories -- 4,192 wasn't bad," Schott said.
Cincinnati's O'Rourke Wrecking Co., along with D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. from
Greensboro, N.C., spent the past week wiring more than 1,000 blasting caps and making
the final preparations for the implosion, as well as the protection of Great American Ball
Park, which stands less than 50 feet away at its closest point. Protective tarps made of
a geo-textile fabric with chain-link backing were draped over certain areas of the
new ballpark, and large dirt mounds were constructed in the outfield wall area of
Cinergy Field to help contain debris and prevent damage to Great American Ball Park and
the adjacent administration building that houses the Reds offices.
The explosives were a 60 percent nitroglycerine mix packed into approximately 2,500
holes drilled into the stadium's support columns. The holes were designed both to hold
explosives and to weaken the overall structure.
Following the implosion, Reds chief operating officer John Allen, senior director of
ballpark operations Declan Mullin, and officials from O'Rourke Wrecking inspected Great American Ball
Park and the administration building for damage and were very pleased with what they found.
"We did a walkthrough, and everything looked great," Allen said. "One projectile went through the [protective] sheeting, but there was no damage to [Great American Ball Park]. We couldn't be happier."
Final preparations for the implosion began early Sunday morning with bridge and street
closings, and a final security sweep of the interiors of Cinergy Field and adjacent
structures. The implosion program began at 7:30 a.m. ET on the east plaza of Paul Brown Stadium with the singing of the national anthem, remarks from county and construction officials, and the announcement of United Way contest winners, most notably Cincinnati-area resident Jim Matthews, who won the right to push the ceremonial button that triggered the implosion.
The raffle Matthews won raised more than $20,000 for Cincinnati's United Way and
Community Chest. Once the safety perimeter was secure, a series of warning sirens
were broadcast, leading up to the final countdown just prior to the firing of the
Spectators were treated to a great deal of noise, vibration, and dust. The experience had been likened to a very intense fireworks display. With 800 mini explosions occurring over a 37-second period, spectators experienced a constant roar. The noise created by such a blast can often exceed 120 decibels. For the first several seconds, while explosions were being heard, the structure remained motionless until gravity took over and brought the stadium down. Dust cleanup and removal of protective materials began immediately
following the implosion, and most city streets reopened by 9 a.m.
A cloud of dust rose from the rubble, drifted into downtown Cincinnati, but then quickly dissipated. "The biggest surprise was the minimal amount of dust," Allen said.
For Allen, a new ballpark for the Reds has been a long time coming. Still, he'll miss Cinergy Field and what it meant to him personally and to Reds fans who turned out by the thousands to view Sunday morning's implosion.
"My whole professional baseball life has been consumed by [Cinergy Field]," Allen said. "It tells you something about our fans that they turned out for this."
Cleanup of the Cinergy Field demolition site is expected to be completed by April 1. Temporary concession stands will be installed where Cinergy Field once stood, and will be in place for the upcoming season. The final demolition of Cinergy Field made room for the new Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, which is scheduled to open adjacent to Great American Ball Park sometime during the 2004 season.
Jeff Wallner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of
Major League Baseball or its clubs.