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The Banks Cincy

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City panel approves Reds’ LED display – with conditions

The Cincinnati Reds are one step closer to installing a large LED video screen outside of Great American Ball Park.

The city Planning Commission Friday approved an ordinance allowing for the nearly 19-foot-tall and 32-foot-wide LED video screen to be mounted outside the Reds Hall of Fame facing west on Freedom Way. The 6,900-pound board would be installed before the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which the Reds are hosting on July 14.

Reds Chief Operating Officer Phil Castellini said the $400,000 board will add value to The Banks entertainment district. Castellini said no speakers will be installed with the board and it would be similar to what people see on the side of highways.

Castellini said the Reds and Nicol Investment Co., whose holdings include the nearly 300 apartments at The Banks and street-level retail space at the site, are partners in supporting the board.

The board is about 80 times larger than a 50-inch television screen.

“Without this type of investment, it is our concern that the Banks Entertainment District will lag the competition which in turn could hurt the economic development and continued growth of this important, vibrant area,” said Douglas Healy, chief financial officer of the Reds in a May 19 letter to city officials. Healy also said the board isn’t expected to have an adverse impact on the area’s character, safety or welfare.

With the ordinance, the commission required:

  • The video screen to have a rotation of at least 30 seconds – more than the 10 seconds initially proposed – when Freedom Way is not closed to traffic. Moving images would be allowed only when Freedom Way is closed to traffic.
  • The video screen be dimmed or turned off during sundown to sunup hours to not disrupt Banks guests and residents, subject to review and approval from the city manager for special events.
  • Board programming would be restricted to promoting the baseball team, the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, the Reds Community Fund, and activities of Banks tenants. Similar to Fountain Square, the board could also be programmed around special events happening around The Banks.

Cincinnati’s zoning rules for its Downtown Development district don’t allow outdoor advertising or flashing signs. The Planning Commission approved an ordinance allowing for permits to be issued for the board’s construction and its operation.

The Department of City Planning and Buildings recommended the commission not support the ordinance because of its longstanding policy to not promote variances to the city’s zoning code, which it is charged with enforcing.

The ordinance is slated to go before a City Council committee Tuesday and the full council could vote on it Wednesday.