01/14/2003 1:52 pm ET
15 minutes with ... Declan Mullin
By Jeff Wallner / RedLegs Weekly
With less than three months remaining until the opening of Great American Ball Park, Declan Mullin's dream is very close to becoming a reality. Mullin, the Reds director of ball park operations, has been involved in nearly every aspect of Great American Ball Park's construction. A native of Northern Ireland, Mullin is a 25-year veteran in public-assembly management. He has assisted with the operations at the Louisiana Superdome, the Memphis Cook Convention Center, Jacksonville Stadium, the Pittsburgh Civic Center and various facilities overseas. Mullin, who graduated summa cum laude in 1985 from the University of St. Helen's in England, has watched Great American Ball Park grow from conceptual rendering to concrete reality. With the glow of an expectant father, Mullin recently accompanied RedLegs Weekly on a stroll through Great American Ball Park.
Q: We are now less than three months from the inaugural Opening Day at Great American Ball Park. Describe your emotions as you watch the project come to fruition after your years of hard work.
A: It's been a lot of long hours, intensive work with the construction managers and architects, to get what the Reds needed and what the fans needed into one exceptional ballpark. We realize that we are only the custodians of the ballpark. The taxpayers gave us a ballpark for $250 million, we put in the rest, and we wanted to give them a ballpark that they'd be proud of.
Q: Crosley Terrace has been one of the most talked about areas at Great American Ball Park with its lush landscaping, Crosley Field replica outfield terrace and bronze statues of Frank Robinson, Ted Kluszewski, Ernie Lombardi and Joe Nuxhall. What can fans expect as they pass through Crosley Terrace at 100 Main Street?
A: Crosley Terrace truly is our front door. Over 65 percent of our fans will enter the ballpark at that location. The fans coming in will truly enjoy the new approach to the ballpark.
Q: Will the statues be installed by Opening Day?
A: The statues will be phased in over time, and there will be an unveiling and a dedication for each statue as it goes in. They'll be phased in throughout the 2003-2004 seasons. The delay was expected. Until you get the dirt in, there are a lot of field measurements that need to take place to make sure you get it right. These aren't off-the-rack statues. The sculptors are here continually measuring. We all wanted to make sure it was right.
Q: When the season begins, what will fans see in the space formerly occupied by Cinergy Field?
A: By Opening Day, the intent is to have all of the debris from Cinergy Field cut back past Main Street. That will allow Hunt Construction to get in there and construct the Hall of Fame area. There will be a viewing area, so fans can look in and see the progress of the Hall of Fame and retail area.
Q: You are exceptionally proud of Great American Ball Park's guest-services features, in particular its accessibility to the disabled. What will the Reds new ballpark offer fans that Cinergy Field did not?
A: We have exceptional care for the fans here. We have more than enough restrooms to service the crowds that we have. There's an equal number of male and female restrooms. We have also far exceeded the 1 percent expectation for accessible disability seating. There are a ton of ramps and chargers at each seat for wheelchairs. We want to truly be a community ballpark that everyone can experience.
Q: In Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field, fans couldn't walk down to the Blue Level without a field-level ticket. Will fans have more freedom of movement in the new ballpark?
A: With the exception of the suite areas, fan movement will be unrestricted. The fans can meander throughout the ballpark. Obviously, we'll make sure that people sit in their designated seat. But, fans will really be able to move about the ballpark. It's amazing how open and airy the new park is. There's nothing claustrophobic here like at Cinergy Field.
Q: The top-six seats in the Red section at Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field were a popular haven for bargain hunters and serious Reds fans. What will Great American Ball Park offer in the way of "cheap seats?"
A: The cheaper the seat, the better the view. At the "View" level, you'll be able to watch the barges going up and down the river, look at the suspension bridge, the Licking River, and of course, the play on the field.
Q: In addition to improved appearance and views, how else will the experience at Great American Ball Park be more fan-friendly?
A: The Reds have hired their first-ever guest-relations consultant, because we are all in the guest-relations business regardless of whether we're an usher, ticket taker, janitor or concession person. Everyone from the front office, including (chief operating officer) John Allen and (general manager) Jim Bowden, will go through a uniformed guest-relations program. We want to make this fun and bring the minor league (atmosphere) to the Major Leagues.
Q: The scoreboard at Great American Ball Park is massive. What can fans expect from the new scoreboard and video boards?
A: The scoreboard is the largest in (Major League Baseball). Comerica Park in Detroit and Coors Field beat us (in height), but the scoreboard (at Great American Ball Park) is the widest. It's actually cutting edge video imagery.
Q: Unlike at Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field, there seems to be quite a bit of features and signage commemorating Reds history. Was that a concentrated effort by the Reds?
A: We'll have the banners commemorating the world championships. Banner pylons surrounding the ballpark will allow fans to relive moments in Reds history. We have the Machine Room Grille (after the Big Red Machine), 4192 Club, the Hall of Fame in 2004. This is truly a facility representative of our Major League team.
Contact Jeff Wallner by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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