Buzz building for Downtown Bengalthon


Andrew Whitworth

David Ginsburg, president and CEO of Downtown Cincinnati Inc., had the reaction the Bengals were looking for Friday when they broke tradition and ground to announce they've moved training camp to Paul Brown Stadium.

"Wow," Ginsburg said from his, where else, downtown office.

 "I'm just going through all the implications in my mind and there are so many exciting things to think about. It's a great way for the Bengals community to connect."

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, from the office of West Monroe, La., is just as pumped up and for a lot of the same reasons.

"I'm just excited to get a chance to have more fans involved," Whitworth texted. "We have a bright future as a team but our full potential can't be reached without the support of our fans and our city."

The Bengals are emphasizing that the same 44-year-old training camp concepts of fan interaction with players is going to rule the day and Jeff Berding, the club's director of sales and public affairs, said there'll be even more. Building off the camp staples of the intrasquad scrimmage, the Mock Game, and autograph sessions, fans and business owners are looking at a three-week Downtown Bengalthon.

Then there's Jim Moehring, who is both. Moehring is the owner of the Holy Grail sports bar across the road from Great American Ball Park and an A.J. Green go pattern from PBS.

"This is like Christmas, but it came out of left field so it's an unexpected Christmas," Moehring said. "My phone hasn't stopped ringing. Family and friends saying how great it is. As a fan, it's great because I can bop over from work and go see the Bengals practice. As a business owner, you look at the amount of people that are going to be downtown at a sports bar. Our biggest day was the playoff game, so what this is going to do for business is exponential."

Berding said the move gives the Bengals an opportunity to explore one-day practices around the area and all indications are that the club may go to its campsite of the past 15 years at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky. There's also the possibility of revisiting Dayton's Welcome Stadium, scene of a sellout during the 2010 camp.

But it is the economy of downtown Cincinnati that is going to be impacted the most. Ginsburg calls it "very significant." The last time the Bengals came off a playoff run, they drew a record 50,000-plus fans to Georgetown in 2010.

In order to stage a PBS camp, the Bengals are going to be using downtown hotels, food services, and the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Airport, as well as other support items.

"It's also a tremendous corporate opportunity," Ginsburg said. "I can see where businesses could take an afternoon with clients and go down to the stadium to watch practice. That's beyond the immediate impact that the hotels and restaurants are going to feel."

The logistics have yet to be in place with much of it pending on head coach Marvin Lewis's practice schedule.

What is known is that the Macy's Music Festival is going to be at PBS the last weekend in July, which is expected to be the first weekend of training camp. So those first practices won't be in the stadium but on the grass fields across the street. But word is the 2013 festival is going to be moved up to the third weekend in July to prevent the conflict.

Also, on what is expected to be the first Monday of camp the Reds start a seven-game homestand, all at night except for a 12:35 p.m. game on Thursday against the Padres and a 1:10 p.m. Sunday game against the Pirates. So Thursday has the potential of being a night practice (intrasquad scrimmage?), but it all depends on Lewis's sked.

In his seven previous camps before last year's lockout, Lewis always ended the first week with a Friday night intrasquad scrimmage followed by a day Mock Game on Saturday. Those may not be the right days, but those are potentially two of some of the events that could be held in the stadium, as well as other night practices.

Although there are no stands on the practice fields across the street, there are indications that bringing in temporary seating may be discussed.

Also in the discussion stage is whether or not the entire team is going to be housed in a hotel, or only the rookies and the players that don't have homes here.

"Not easier," texted Whitworth when what it means for the players. "Just more convenient for training room and treatment. Just nice to be in Cinci and try to get fans around us.

"We had one of the youngest teams in the league yet our home games were barely home games. We need to find a way to generate support. It will be great for the team and the community and they get a closer look at what we are building."

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