Fans help de-ice PBS

3:30 p.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

If Boston has "The Big Dig," then Cincinnati has "The Big Dig Out," with Bengals fans providing a major assist in getting Paul Brown Stadium de-iced for Sunday's regular-season home finale against the Giants.

Officials said Saturday the stadium "will be ready" for the 1 p.m. game, which is a sellout and figures to break the franchise's season attendance record with more than half a million fans. But officials also cautioned fans, especially the elderly and those with mobility problems, that they face challenges in the wake of the frigid temperatures following Wednesday's snowstorm that dropped more than eight inches on the city.

"With very hard work by a lot of people, the field will be in perfect condition tomorrow, and for the fans, all aisles and stairways will be clean and passable," said Bob Bedinghaus, director of development for PBS. "The public should be advised that some rows between the seats will still be snow-filled. Conditions will be more difficult than those for a normal game.

"Fans should make preparations, with warm clothing and proper footwear, for dealing with some effects from the storm."

Fans already stepped up Christmas Eve when PBS officials called on the public to help with snow removal by bringing shovels to battle piles that had turned into ice. A total of 436 people, paid $8 per hour, reported Saturday and are helping crews make a significant dent.

       "We're getting a big assist from some true Bengals fans," Bedinghaus said. "As we mentioned yesterday, Green Bay and Buffalo have used a program such as this in the past when they've had heavy snow just before games. This is not easy work, but our experience mirrors theirs in the finding that many fans enjoy the process of being a part of the game preparation under some unusual circumstances.
        "We want to thank each and every person who showed up to help, and also we'd like to thank the area news media who helped us sound the call for workers. Without all of these people, our job would have been much, much more difficult."
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