CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Gardens seats won’t be found next to the Christmas trees this weekend, but online ordering has started for a public sale of authentic memorabilia from the closed arena.
The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority announced Monday afternoon that sports memorabilia from the 67-year-old Gardens building is on sale until Jan. 9.
The Port Authority is not calling the memorabilia seats because once they are removed from the arena they will not have a stable base, according to spokeswoman Gail Paul.
The Port Authority’s website, cincinnatiport.org, has the online order form to purchase up to four seat remnants at $50 each. A letter of authenticity will be provided with each order.
The items will be available for pickup on or after March 1 at Building Value, which is at 4040 Spring Grove Ave. in Northside.
The memorabilia will not come with floor brackets and are not freestanding. Specific seat requests will not be considered, the Port said in a release.
“We are not able to provide mounting brackets, braces, or stands that could be used to make the seats stable and suitable for sitting,” Paul said. “Therefore, all items are sold “as is” and buyers are aware that the items sold are not new nor in perfect condition.”
The Port said in November there was confirmed lead paint on some of the seats so the Port had to appropriately determine the risk before moving forward.
“Seats in some sections tested negatively,” Paul said. “Building Value will remove those first. Each buyer should read the disclaimer and decide for himself/herself whether owning a seat is acceptable for his or her individual situation. (The) disclaimer is prominently listed on the website.”
Lead content found in Sections 40 through 51 and 53 through 68, from which these seats are being sold, did not qualify as lead-based paint according to the standards set forth by the Ohio Department of Health.
Paul said the Port does not recommend the memorabilia to be used as furniture, especially by children. By purchasing the seats the purchaser acknowledges the memorabilia is for collectible purposes, Paul said.
The Port does not plan to sell other items from the Gardens at this time.
The Gardens exterior sign and six unique bas-relief sculptures at the building entrance may be preserved and located prior to building demolition. The Port said it’s working closely with the American Sign Museum and the family of Henry Mott regarding the future of those items.
The Port Authority expects the demolition of the Gardens building to begin in early-to-mid 2017. The 19-acre property on 2250 Seymour Ave. is expected to transform into a site for advanced manufacturing.
“This sale of Cincinnati Gardens memorabilia is a fun way to preserve lasting memories of good times at the Gardens,” Port Authority President and CEO Laura Brunner said in a release. “We are happy to partner again with Building Value and provide a project that will help train dozens for future success in the workplace.”
Building Value provides job training in construction and retail to people with workforce disadvantages. The Port Authority, and Hamilton County Land Reutilization Corporation (Hamilton County Landbank), have an ongoing partnership with Building Value, a licensed demolition contractor.
Building Value has provided a number of services since 2013, including demolition, deconstruction and stabilization. On several demolitions, Building Value workers have disassembled homes from the inside out, mostly by hand, to provide job training and salvage reusable materials for sale to the public.
“We are very fortunate to again work with the Port Authority,” said David Rich, director of Building Value. “It’s a special treat to disassemble and salvage Cincinnati Gardens seat memorabilia and make them available to people with cherished memories of the venue, and we’re always grateful for the important on-the-job training our associates receive while performing this work.”
The Gardens was built in 1949 and was the seventh largest arena in the country at the time. The Gardens cost $3 million to build in 1949 -- the equivalent of more than $29 million today.
The Montreal Canadiens played an exhibition game Feb. 22, 1949 in front of 11,500 to open the Gardens.
The arena hosted countless sporting events and concerts along with comedians, symphony orchestras, Broadway-style musicals, political rallies, roller derby, circuses, dog shows, dirt track auto racing and faith events.
The Beatles, Jackson Five, Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley performed there. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Billy Graham spoke there.
The largest recorded crowd in Gardens history occurred Oct. 25, 1960 as 19,000 attended a Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge campaign rally
The NBA’s Cincinnati Royals played there from 1957 to 1972. The franchise moved after the '71-72 season and became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in 1972-73. The team was known as the Kansas City Kings from 1975-85 and later became the current Sacramento Kings.
The Gardens hosted the 1966 NBA All-Star Game, which included Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas, among others. Legendary coach Red Auerbach coached the East squad.
The Gardens also hosted UC basketball games featuring the Big O prior to his arrival with the Royals, and Middletown High School basketball games featuring Lucas prior to his arrival with Cincinnati's NBA team. The Ohio high school state basketball finals were played there in 1953 and '55.
Xavier University used the Gardens as its home court starting with the 1983-84 season. The final Xavier game at the Gardens was an NIT first round game against Marquette on March 15, 2000.
The facility most recently served as home to Cincinnati Rollergirls, the city's first amateur, all-female, flat track roller derby team. The Rollergirls had the final event in the history of the arena June 11, 2016.
The arena officially closed Aug. 17. At the time of closing the arena had 10,000 seats. The Port does not have sales projections for this memorabilia sale.