Thursday, November 29, 2001

Bengals box won in drawing

County let sales-tax payers have a chance

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Gordon and Sharon Baker were three-time winners Wednesday at the Hamilton County commissioners meeting, but only the first one will count.

        County commissioners drew 16 names out of a Cincinnati Bengals trash can, with each winner and his guest getting to use the county's luxury box in Paul Brown Stadium for a Bengals game.

        Actually, commissioners had to draw 21 names because the Bakers' names came out three times (Gordon once and Sharon twice) and Solomon Wilburn came out twice. In addition, two alternates were picked in case one of the winners can't go.

        Gordon Baker of Hamilton said it will be his first trip to the $451 million stadium.

        “I just can't afford it,” Mr. Baker said. “This is the only way I'd ever be able to go.”

        Half of the winners will attend Sunday's game against Tampa Bay. The other half will go to the Dec. 30 game against Pittsburgh.

        Mr. Wilburn, of Colerain Township, said he wasn't feeling particularly lucky when he woke up Wednesday morning. The news that he was actually a two-time winner surprised him.

        “They said you could enter as many times as you wanted, so I put my name in a few times,” said Mr. Wilburn, who had season tickets last year but sold them before this season.

        Nearly 1,000 entrants registered for the drawing at local shopping malls.

        Commissioner Todd Portune, who came up with the idea of the drawing, said the box should be open to people who pay sales tax in Hamilton County, since it's their dollars that paid for the building.

        The luxury box has been used in the past to host foster parents, county employees of the month and residents who have increased their annual contributions to the United Way.

        Suzanne Burke, county budget director, said the box will be open to residents again next year.


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