O'Rourke Wrecking Helps Reds Get Ready for New Home
August 29, 2023
This article was originally published in the May/June 2001 issue of DEMOLITION magazine, back when the National Demolition Association (NDA) was the National Association of Demolition Contractors (NADC).
Cinergy Field, formerly Riverfront Stadium, home of the MLB Cincinnati Reds, and former home of the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, is being demolished to be replaced with the Great American Ballpark.
NADC-member O’Rourke Wrecking Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, was awarded the project and began the first of three phases in late summer of 2000. The project is scheduled for completion under the original bid by Oct. 31, 2003.
Phase 1, which was completed by mid-October, involved the erection of a temporary barricade on the pedestrian bridge that connects Cinergy Field Plaza to the adjacent Firstar (The Coliseum) Plaza, salvaging of precast concrete panels from the Firstar pedestrian bridge over Pete Rose Way — the major downtown street running parallel to the stadium — and the stairs north of Pete Rose Way, and demolishing the easternmost portion of the Conergy Field Parking Garage.
Demolition started at Mehring Way, the street on the Ohio River side of the stadium and continued north over Pete Rose Way. It included the southern one-third of the vehicle/pedestrian bridge stretching from Third Street over Fort Washington Way, the I-75/I-71 exchange, to Cinergy Field in downtown Cincinnati. During this phase, the stadium’s parking garage was demolished down to the top of the concrete slab.
O’Rourke started Phase 2 immediately at the close of the 2002 Cincinnati Reds’ baseball season and was completed by mid-January of 2001 — two weeks ahead of schedule.
Thrown into this phase was the unexpected removal of the artificial playing surface (AstroTurf)) that was not in O’Rourke’s original bid. The Reds decided they wanted to play on real grass their last to years at Cinergy Field and avid baseball fan, Mike O’Rourke, was excited about the opportunity to make that happen for them while keeping to the original timetable of the project.
Phase 2 of the project was to remove a pie-shape area dubbed “The Bite” from the Stadium bowl.
The Bite gulped down the section of the stadium from the left field foul pole all the way to straight-a-way center field. Work was done in a counterclockwise fashion to allow the new construction of the Great American Ballpark to commence and follow right behind O’Rourke’s demolition work.
O’Rourke removed the entire bowl in this segment of the stadium to the top of the slab-on-grade (sidewalk grade), including removal of approximately 15,000 seats. The only exception was the floodwall on the perimeter of the bowl which had been left in place as it was designed to protect Cinergy Field from the Ohio River should the river rise above flood stage over the next two years as the Great American Ballpark, the Reds’ new home, is built. The floodwall’s structural integrity could not be compromised during this phase of the work and will eventually be removed under a separate contract.
O’Rourke will commence Phase 3 upon the close of the 2002 baseball season which is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 31, 2003.
This will be the largest segment of the project for O’Rourke and entails the complete demolition of the entire remaining portion of the stadium that was not demolished during Phase 1 and 2. When O’Rourke begins this final demolition phase of the project, the new Great American Ballpark will be approximately 10 feet away from the north and south edges of the partially demolished Cinergy Field. At that point in time, O’Rourke must carefully remove two to three bays of the stadium to ensure no damage occurs to the new ballpark.
A decision has not been made at this time whether or not to drop the remaining portion of the stadium using explosives. The project was originally bid by O’Rourke to demolish the stadium using conventional methods. Explosives will only be used if it is decided to be the most efficient manner to bring down the remainder of the stadium.
Phase 3 will include salvage of the stadium seating (approximately 41,000 seats) and other sports memorabilia and items from the stadium. This phase will also include removal of pedestrian/vehicle bridges over Fort Washington Way (I-75/I-71) as well as a portion of the pedestrian tube steel bridge that connects the downtown high-rise Atrium Building to Third Street and the western pedestrian bridge leading from Cinergy Field Plaza to Fort Washington Way.
O’Rourke looks forward to Phase 3 of this exciting project and is proud for the opportunity to be a part of the Cincinnati history once again.