Minorities Seek Reds Share; Rigaud Trying To Assemble $6M Consortium

By John Fay
Updated: January 25, 2006

CINCINNATI — The man behind the rise of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is trying to put together a group to buy a stake in the Reds.

Ed Rigaud, who has been working to get minorities more economically involved in the community, said the African-American group would put up more than $6 million. It would be the first time a black group has owned a piece of one of the city’s best known and revered institutions.

Rigaud’s group would join new Reds chief executive officer Bob Castellini’s ownership group, which was approved last week by Major League Baseball.

“I’ve been working on economic inclusion,” Rigaud said, “inspiring minorities to become involved entrepreneurially in the community.

“This would be a big step.”

Rigaud, a former executive at Procter & Gamble, has put up his own money to get the process started.

“This would be a great thing for the community and the Reds, if we can pull it off.”

Castellini has been encouraging, Rigaud said.

“Bob and I go way, way back,” Rigaud said. “We’ve been friends for more than 25 years. He’s embraced this idea.”

Rigaud is founding executive director, board co-chairman and former president of the Freedom Center. He led the project from its inception in 1995 through 2001 while working as an executive on loan from P&G.

Castellini cannot comment on the rest of his ownership group until it is approved by Major League Baseball. He said at his introductory news conference Friday that a full list of partners would be disclosed in a few weeks.

Baseball has strived for years to get minorities involved in the sport, and MLB requires that clubs interview minorities for major job openings.

“Across the board, we’ve encouraged this,” MLB spokesman Patrick Courtney said.

Said Rigaud: “(Minority ownership) has never happened in Cincinnati. And I’m not sure it’s happened much around the country.”