The replacement of seats at Great American Ball Park earlier this year came in under budget. That's in part because the project made a little money.
Last year, Hamilton County Commissioners budgeted $2 million to replace broken seats at the stadium. Stadium Director Joe Feldkamp says the actual cost of replacing the seats was about $1.3 million but the final expenditure was only $1.1 million.
“We offset some of our expenses through the county auction and through the recycling program that we established with a local vendor,” Feldkamp says.
The auctions brought in over $34,000, while the recycling raised nearly $20,000.
“All the plastic from the old seats, all the cup holders, seat backs and bottoms went to that recycler,” he says.
The county had to create special molds for the replacement seats. Feldkamp says the county holds the license on those molds and at least one other major league ballpark is expressing interest.
“We already have an order through the Kansas City Royals for 5,000 pieces with our molds and we look forward to more in the future. We’re in queue for a potential project in Michigan that’s building a new hockey arena, so we’re hopeful that that comes through and we can provide those seats.”
Feldkamp says Hamilton County is now in the seat business and is more than happy to take orders from anywhere in the country.
No one was sure how many seats to order for Great American Ball Park because there are four different sizes. Feldkamp says he knew there were many 19-inch and 20-inch wide seats so those were ordered and replaced first, leaving an unknown number of 21 and 22-inch seats.
“As we got to the latter part of the program, we took inventory ourselves so we could finish off the order and finish the seats.
“But moving forward, we want to know for sure how many of each we have so that if we have to dismantle the seats in the future when we go to paint the stanchions - the red stanchions that hold the seats in place - we know what seat goes back where,” Feldkamp says.
He says a number of people gained job experience in the process of replacing the 37,000 seat backs, 34,000 seat bottoms, and nearly 38,000 cup holders. Feldkamp turned to the Hamilton County Re-Entry Program which connects employers with people coming out of the prison system.
“We stumbled upon that by chance. When I was in the middle of researching this project, I needed a way of installing the seats. I was at a department head meeting where the re-entry program was introduced. I understood what the program was all about and met with the individual that was there that day and we put our heads together and created a program that led to the success of the installations of the seats.”
Feldkamp says 117 people were employed over the course of the nine month project.