The first coat of Bengals orange has made it on the panel that is evolving into the Ring of Honor in the bowl of Paul Brown Stadium as the east façade awaits the name of franchise founder Paul Brown and the last name of Pro Football Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz and his No. 78.
When the vote of Bengals Season Ticket Holders is announced next month with the remaining two last names and numbers of the Ring's inaugural class, Steve Johnson, the PBS capital projects manager, has the green light to finish off the display in time for the unveiling on the night of Sept. 30 and the Bengals game against the Jaguars.
The preparations come amid a surge of Who Dey nostalgia. Earlier this month about 200 fans made the pilgrimage to Canton for a rally at the Pro Football Hall of Fame promoting the candidacies of several Bengals greats with an eye on the nomination of one Senior candidate that is announced in August and joins the list of finalists for the 2022 selection in February.
The paint job has been just as intense. Elizabeth Blackburn, the Bengals director of strategy and engagement, says they went through "three iterations," of orange before creating just the right tint that is not only waiting for the names, but three more coats.
In an effort to find a space that allows the stadium to both retain flexibility for upgrades and gives permanence to the rocks of the franchise, Blackburn began staking out the stadium last season. The concrete strip between the two upper suite levels and under an overhang ended up having everything the club sought.
"We wanted to find a façade with a special significance," Blackburn says. "Between the 200 and 300 suite levels is a great space. It's prestigious. It's also right below the LED strip, which is where a lot of fans look to see the down and distance and score. It will be highly visible. It will be well lit and it's protected."
The concrete is also going to anchor the names that are already embedded in Bengals history.
"It was finding a facade that was truly everlasting in the stadium," Blackburn says.
Classic white block letters with black edges are going to spell out the last names and numbers of the honorees against the orange backdrop. The tentative plan is to have the names start at the 50-yard line and spread out. If the east façade gets filled as it most likely will somewhere in the future, there's a replica on the other side of the bowl.
But Johnson's crew only has eyes on Sept. 30. And they're the only eyes until then.
"I guess we'll have to find a way to conceal it until then," Johnson says.