© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

1 Year Later: Empty Cincinnati Gardens Near Demolition

Cincinnati Gardens opened in February 1949 on Seymour Avenue.
John Kiesewetter
Cincinnati Gardens opened in February 1949 on Seymour Avenue.

The seats are gone -- removed and sold. The large porcelain CINCINNATI GARDENS letters erected for the 1949 opening have been promised to the American Sign Museum in Camp Washington.

And sometime in the not too distant future the Cincinnati Gardens arena – home of Oscar Robertson's NBA Cincinnati Royals, and the minor league Swords, Cyclones, Mohawks and Mighty Ducks – will be a pile of rubble.

A year ago today,  the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority took possession of the Cincinnati Gardens, built at 2250 Seymour Avenue shortly after World War II, and 19 acres of property for $1.75 million.

Poster for Cincinnati Gardens rock 'n' roll concert.
Credit John Kiesewetter
Rock 'n' roll concert poster displayed in the Gardens in 2016.

When I realized it had been a year since I posted my"Photo Essay: The Cincinnati Gardens - 67 Years, 67 Memories,"  from touring the building shortly before the sale, I requested an update.

The Gardens had hosted presidents and pop stars (Richard Nixon, George Bush, the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Madonna), rockers and wrestlers (Guns & Roses, Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Pearl Jam, Gorgeous George, Ric Flair), but in recent decades the venue was bypassed for more modern facilities due to the Gardens' lack of air conditioning and handicap accessibility.  

Here's what I learned about the Port Authority's redevelopment plans for the site:

DEMOLITION: Bid specifications needed to hire a demolition contractor "are expected to be complete in August," says Gail Paul, Port Authority vice president for communication strategy.

"Project plans and specifications are complete. Activities will include abatement, remediation, demolition and earthwork. The project schedule remains under review," Paul says.

Cincinnati Gardens relief designed by Henry Mott.
Credit John Kiesewetter
Cincinnati Gardens relief designed by Henry Mott.

SPORTS RELIEFS: The fate is uncertain for the six huge sports reliefs of a boxer, basketball player and hockey player on either side of the front entrance. They were designed by Henry Mott, who won a 1948 Art Academy of Cincinnati competition.

"There is an approach to save the sports reliefs, and whether it ultimately succeeds depends on a number of factors, including the condition of the reliefs, which we will assess prior to extracting them before demolition – and the availability of resources to relocate them.  The family of the artist is planning to raise funds for their relocation, we are told," Paul says.

Copyright 2021 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit .

John Kiesewetter joined the WVXU news team as a TV/Media blogger on July 1 2015, after nearly 30 years covering local and national broadcasting for The Cincinnati Enquirer. He’ll be posting news about Greater Cincinnati TV, radio and movies; updating your favorite former local TV/radio personalities or stars who grew up here; and breaking news about national TV, radio and media trends. You’ll also learn about Cincinnati’s rich broadcasting history.