CINCINNATI (AP) _ The ballpark that was home to Pete Rose’s Big Red Machine and the site of Hank Aaron’s 714th home run was reduced to rubble in less than a minute Sunday.
With the push of a button, 1,275 pounds of dynamite and nitroglycerine went off in a counterclockwise sequence of blasts around Cinergy Field nee Riverfront Stadium, collapsing the 32-year-old arena inward onto its former playing surface.
It took all of 37 seconds.
The demolition of the stadium, built for $44 million and opened in 1970, eliminated what had been a prominent feature of Cincinnati’s skyline along the Ohio River.
Onlookers cheered and some car horns sounded as a cloud of smoke and dust spread to downtown before dissipating within half an hour.
``It was awesome,″ said 17-year-old Maureen Wille, who drove through the night from Pontiac, Ill., with her brother to videotape the collapse of the ballpark.
Workers had already stripped out the lighting, seats and other fixtures to prepare the ballpark, first known as Riverfront Stadium and later renamed Cinergy Field.
The $280 million Great American Ball Park next door and the nearby John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, which spans the Ohio River to Covington, Ky., were not damaged by Cinergy’s collapse.
The demolition crew left sand mounds and part of the outfield wall standing at Cinergy, hoping to protect the Great American Ball Park.
An inspection of the new ballpark found no broken windows and minimal dust from Cinergy’s collapse, said Jeff Sizemore of O’Rourke Wrecking Co., the demolition contractor.
``It couldn’t have gone better,″ Sizemore said.
The Reds open their new ballpark March 28 with an exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians. The season opener is March 31 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Thousands of people lined both sides of the river to watch the demolition, and some bars and restaurants had breakfast parties for spectators.
Hotel rooms with a view of the demolition were booked, and others watched from boats on the river. The demolition was also broadcast on regional television stations.
Three blocks away at Paul Brown Stadium, the home of the Cincinnati Bengals, thousands of spectators cheered and applauded as Cinergy crumbled.
Riverfront Stadium opened in 1970 with Hank Aaron hitting a home run in the first game. That fall, the stadium hosted the World Series in which the Reds lost to the Baltimore Orioles.
On opening day in 1974, Aaron tied Babe Ruth’s career home run record of 714. Aaron would go on to finish with 755.
The Reds went on to win three World Series, including consecutive titles in 1975-76 with Rose, Tony Perez, Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench leading the Big Red Machine. In 1985, Rose passed Ty Cobb to become baseball’s career hits leader.
In the winter, the stadium was home to the Bengals, who reached two Super Bowls while playing there.
In one of the NFL’s coldest games, Jan. 10, 1982, the Bengals overcame a wind chill of 59 degrees below zero to beat the San Diego Charges 27-7 in the AFC championship game, advancing to their first Super Bowl.
The Bengals left the stadium in 1999, opening play in 2000 at Paul Brown Stadium.
The site will become the western concourse of Great American Ball Park and will include the Reds’ Hall of Fame, set to open in 2004.