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County wants Super Bowl watch party at Paul Brown Stadium, but not everyone is on board

Bars, restaurants concerned with stadium party
Paul Brown Stadium Cincinnati Bengals football game
Posted at 2:24 PM, Feb 01, 2022

CINCINNATI — Call it the watch for the "watch party."

“What we are looking at at this point, is an event in the bowl,” said Hamilton County Administrator Jeff Alutto, who stated Tuesday his staff is working out the logistics of what it would take to put on a Super Bowl watch party at Paul Brown Stadium.

“I’ve been in touch with our partners the Cincinnati Bengals, to other organizations whether it’s the Chamber to the CVB… I’m happy to report, all of our partnerships that I have mentioned and others have been extremely cooperative," Alutto said. "They’ve all been great and want to help us pull this off."

The idea was first tossed out last week by Commissioner Alicia Reece, who pushed to host a watch party at the stadium for the Bengals-Chiefs game in the AFC Championship. However, the county said there simply wasn’t enough time to coordinate the event.

This time around there are two weeks to plan.

“We have to make sure there is adequate security staff, we have to make sure concessions are available. We have to make sure when people get in, they can actually see the game,” Alutto said.

Reece said she believes it is a good opportunity to bring more tourism to Cincinnati and Hamilton County, as well as give back to taxpayers who helped fund the stadium.

“We want to have something where we get a return on our investment," Reece said. "California, they didn’t invest in our stadium here. So we go to California, we’re not getting a dime out of California."

She said it could be bigger than a watch party and include a weekend-long event.

"We've got an opportunity to put a package together that would include a Super Bowl type of experience right here in Cincinnati," Reece said. "People can come and book hotels and they can come for an entire weekend. They can come on Thursday and leave on Monday."

She said a large weekend event could boost the local economy, taking advantage of fans who would otherwise watch from home because they can't be at the game in Los Angeles. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. Reece said she's been in touch with Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval about a parade and rally.

There are some concerns, though.

Tony Castelli with E+O Kitchen at The Banks has had a Super Bowl plan in place for more than a month. He said he's frustrated with how what he said is a last-minute plan could impact them.

"The notion that they think it's good for business, good for constituents to create another draw, that pulls people away from restaurants and bars that already are having a hard time finding people who are comfortable going to restaurants and bars," Castelli said. "It's a little annoying."

Commissioner Denise Driehaus said she has also heard from a bar owner who is concerned about losing business to a stadium party. She questioned how many people will actually attend the event and what the cost will be.

Board President Stephanie Summerow Dumas said she is concerned about COVID-19.

“I don’t want to be the one to say the county is hosting an event, with the way the numbers are as it relates to COVID,” Dumas said.

Alutto said he hopes to have a clearer answer on if the watch party is possible by the end of this week or early next week. The event will be pending board approval.

Follow that thread of the discussion here:

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