The Jurassic Quest Disaster: Cincinnati needs to get its act together downtown

It pains me to say it, but the Jurassic Quest event at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, Ohio on the weekend of January 28, 2018 was horrible. My kids and grandkids wanted to go, so at $20 dollars a ticket I thought it would be something special. The good news is that the dinosaurs themselves were great animatronic creatures—but they were no better than the good exhibit at Kings Island just up the road. This Jurassic Quest thing is a traveling show that goes from city to city every weekend, so it takes money to get around the country and pay everyone—I understand the need to make a nice profit and in Cincinnati we are spoiled in regard to having Kings Island—not every city has something like that. It certainly didn’t hurt attendance, there were a lot of people coming to Jurassic Quest—and at the cost of a basic ticket, there is no question that the people putting the whole show on were making money. But here’s the problem, they charged for every little thing—there were very few things that you could do with your $20 price of admission. Our kids were bored in a half an hour and were ready to go home and for something like that—that is a shame.

The larger problem however is the city of Cincinnati itself. I hadn’t been down to the Duke Energy Center in a few years, the last time was a Freedom Fest type of thing that Glenn Beck and a lot of reform minded people were at. I had parked at Carew Tower and walked down so my experience was a decent one. Things are pretty nice in the Fountain Square area relative to where I live in Liberty Township, Ohio—so nothing jumped out at me as being of low quality—for a city. But because we had a bunch of kids and strollers I wanted to park close to the entrance of the Duke Energy Center which was charging for “event” parking so it was $15 dollars per car. We had two cars, so add up the price of the parking and the tickets and do the math—we made a significant investment in this thing and expected something of a decent quality.

What we were greeted with was a mess, the elevator in the garage was slow and clunky. It smelled like death. The windows to the stairs were mostly broken and the entry to the Skywalk was in disrepair. Everything on that second level that would take visitors into the convention center from the garage looked torn up and broken which was a shame, because the whole area was the premier part of the downtown experience, and this appeared to be the best they could do. City management should be ashamed of itself along with whoever is managing that garage. What a waste of money that was. If they are charging that much money for parking—and Paul Brown Stadium is right around the corner within walking distance—then why couldn’t everything at least work and look cared for?

When we arrived at the ground floor we came to a very uneventful door that led into a courtyard that looked like it came out of the video game Fallout—as if a nuclear holocaust had rid the city of its occupants for a century or more. The door into the garage for which I was holding to let the kids come out, looked like a broom closet once I closed it. There was nothing to say that this was the entrance to the garage or anything connected to capitalist activity in the downtown region. It was just a beat up rusty door that needed to be painted badly and was pathetic. Of course we had a big stroller for the kids and there was no ramp or anyway to get to the up the steps that took us to the ground level so we carried the thing up and onto the sidewalk. That surprised me because I’ve done work within the city of Cincinnati just two or three blocks down from that location at City Hall and I can tell you that I’ve wasted many hours of my life arguing with the idiots at the CBC (Cincinnati Building Code) office about easement ramps for new projects so handicapped people and people with strollers like us could get around. I of course am against imposing unrealistic restrictions on businesses with a bunch of stupid ramps, yet as strict as the bureaucrats at city hall are about such progressive concepts, they had nothing in one of their sidewalk easements to one of their best garages in an area where guests coming into the city will interact most. I’d be surprised if they didn’t know about the issue.

Then there are the rug rats and the homeless that were hovering around the area. Forget about all the compassion nonsense, and why there are homeless people, and people who will whore themselves out for a shot of heroin—people coming downtown to spend $300 on an experience with their kids don’t want to look at a bunch of losers panhandling. If the city wants to let them hang around begging for money and sleeping on the streets, they should corral them somewhere that doesn’t impose such a swanky demeanor to visitors of the city. It is one of the biggest problems of visiting any city. I can say that in traveling to London and Paris within the year I could say the same about those places—no city is dealing properly with the homeless situation. Canterbury which is a town in England that I like quite a lot has a lot of homeless people and you have to step over them literally at times because they sleep right on the sidewalk and interact with the people around them. When you are shopping and spending time with the people you care about in life, these people are an interruption. Feeling sorry for their condition in life is one thing, but having to deal with them when you are tying to enjoy something is quite another. Allowing them to hang out at the entrance of the Duke Energy Center is a mistake. In London even, they understand not to allow the unsightly to gather in front of their big tourist areas—they shove them off into the corners wherever possible. You won’t see them outside Buckingham Palace—that’s for sure, and we shouldn’t see them outside of the Duke Energy Center or in the path to Fountain Square, or the Banks a few blocks to the south.

I know Cincinnati is mostly ran by liberals. My oldest daughter loves going down to the Over the Rhine district on Vine Street that has really come a long way since I was her age. But just a few streets over it’s still the crime infested place it always was—it has taken a lot to push the criminal element to the east and west to create an enterprise zone that people like my daughter will actually visit. But the people running the city wondering why nobody wants to ride their stupid street car must understand that people of value don’t like to have losers shoved in their faces when they are spending their entertainment dollars. So the city has to manage their losers and keep them away from the people who have money in their pockets otherwise that money won’t come downtown. After what I saw I would be very reluctant to do such a thing again. I have so many more options to the north and south where I don’t have to see losers hanging around on the street where I can spend my money. I only say something because I like Cincinnati and want it to be successful. But it won’t be so long as these basic little things are left unresolved.

Rich Hoffman
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