Hamilton County has found an interesting and creative solution to what could have been a financial fiasco involving the Cincinnati Reds' stadium, Great American Ball Park.
Only 11 years old, Great American Ball Park needs some new seats because its current ones are decaying. In fact, the seats started decaying in 2008, only five years after the park opened. Their expected lifespan was 20 years.
To save some money, the county turned to a work re-entry program to find the labor to install the new seats. These laborers are former inmates who work for $10 an hour. Thanks in part to these ex-inmates, as well as a local design firm hired to create the new seats, the county is saving about $4 million on the project.
"It gives us an opportunity to be proud of something," Alonzo Franklin, who started out installing the seats and is now a supervisor, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It makes you feel good that you get to be part of something so big."
Even more encouraging for the former inmates is that they may be able to find long-term employment with Hamilton County or the Reds after the installation project is completed.
All told, the county is looking to have 39,000 new seats installed before Cincinnati hosts the MLB All-Star Game in July 2015. About 17,000 of the seats are currently in place.
According to the Enquirer, the county is also hoping to recoup $25,000 from recycling the old seat bottoms and backs.