Unhappy with the costs of repairing broken seats at Great American Ball Park, Hamilton County is manufacturing 39,000 new seats for the home of the Cincinnati Reds and is using former prison inmates for installation.
The issue: there were many broken seats at Great American Ball Park — an unusually high number for a ballpark opening in 2003, say Hamilton County officials. And while the original seat manufacturer, Hussey Seating, was willing to replace 1,000 or so as a warranty claim, county officials say many more than that needed replacing. After receiving a $5 million bid for new seats, county officials decided to look at manufacturing replacements. After contracting with two firms to reverse-engineer new molds and manufacture new plastic seats, the decision was made to go with former inmates for the installation. From Cincinnati.com:
The final step was finding someone to install all those seats. The original contract covered everything from mold designs to production to installation. This time, though, the county was doing it alone and needed a cost-effective option.
That’s when Feldkamp heard a presentation on the Hamilton County Re-entry Program, which helps former inmates and others adapt to the working world. He set up a training program, hired about 60 participants, handed each a bag of tools and put them to work.
They hit a few bumps in the road. As it turns out, not everyone is very handy, and the work ethic of some former inmates isn’t great. Eventually, though, they found a core group of workers they could count on and have slowly built up a reliable team.
The total cost of the seat replacement: $1.3 million.
The work will continue through the spring as well as during the 2015 season, with a deadline of completion by the All-Star Game in July. Hamilton County may try to turn this into a business serving other sporting facilities.