Along the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati sits
Great American Ball Park, one of the city's crown jewels as it has
revitalized the area along the riverfront and is the home to
baseball's oldest franchise, the Cincinnati Reds. It opened on March
31, 2003 when the Reds battled the Pirates in front of over 42,000
fans. Great American Ball Park replaced
Riverfront Stadium that
sat directly west of the ballpark. Riverfront Stadium was a
multipurpose stadium that opened in 1970 as the home of the Reds and
Cincinnati Bengals (NFL). It was a typical cookie-cutter stadium
that could be found in just about every other city. In the 1990s
both the Reds and Bengals wanted new separate modern stadiums after
sharing Riverfront Stadium for nearly three decades. In 1996
Hamilton County voters approved a bond to increase the sales tax to
fund stadiums for both teams. Two locations for a new Reds ballpark
were proposed: Broadway Commons and an area between Riverfront
Stadium and US Bank Arena, known as the 'wedge'.
It took over a year for officials to determine
where to construct the ballpark. Reds officials were
concerned about the cost of land at Broadway
Broadway Commons whereas the land along the river was owned by
Hamilton County. In November 1998, citizens ended the
question of where the ballpark would be built,
voting to have it constructed along the riverfront.
However, this did not end the stadium debate in
Cincinnati. Owner of the Reds, Marge Schott,
threatened to move the team to Northern Kentucky if
the team did not receive a better lease agreement
than the Bengals. Reds and city officials agreed to
a lease and groundbreaking for the ballpark occurred
on October 4, 2000. In order for construction to
begin, 14,000 seats had to be removed from the outfield of the Reds'
former home, Riverfront Stadium. For two years, Reds fans were able
to watch the new ballpark rise beyond the outfield of Riverfront
Stadium. Great American Insurance bought the naming rights to the
ballpark for $75 million over 30 years; thus the stadium was named
Great American Ball Park.
Great American Ball Park is a combination of new
and old ballparks and provides an excellent setting for baseball.
Walking along the outside perimeter of the ballpark down Second
Street, fans are greeted by a three story building of brick and cast
limestone, with the phrase “Rounding third and heading for home,”
the signature sign-off of broadcaster Joe Nuxhall, atop the
building. Banners of great moments in Reds' history also line this
area. At the intersection of Second and Main streets is an opening
to Crosley Terrace, the homeplate entrance, that most fans pass
through when entering the ballpark. The terrace is about an acre of concrete, landscaped
with grass and trees. Statues of Crosley Field-era players (Joe Nuxhall, Ernie Lombardi, Ted Kluszewski,
Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Frank Robinson) dot the
landscape, along with a pitcher's mound built to Major League
Baseball dimensions of the day. Grass in the terrace is sloped at
the same incline as Crosley Field's outfield. Special lighting
illuminates the statues, stone benches and a 60-foot stone sculpture
meant to depict the romance of the game are also located in Crosley
Terrace. Adjacent and connecting to Great American Ball Park
along Main Street is the Reds Hall of Fame Museum and team store. A
rose garden, remembering Pete Rose, is located near the museum where
his record breaking 4,192 hit was at Riverfront Stadium.
Upon entering the ballpark, fans have sweeping views of the ballpark.
Great American Ballpark has approximately 42,271 red seats in three
levels. The lower grandstand extends from the left field foul pole to
homeplate and around to the right field foul pole. The second deck
consists of club seats, luxury suites, and the press box. Stretching
from foul pole to foul pole, the upper deck is broken into two sections.
The gap is an opening in the seating sections located between homeplate
and third base. This enables people in downtown Cincinnati to see into
The gap allows the upper deck to be closer to the field than most in
baseball. Doubled decked bleachers are located in left field and
additional seating is located beyond the right field fence. With little
foul territory at Great American Ball Park fans receive excellent views
of the game.
Above the bleachers in
left field is the 138 foot wide by 38 foot high LED
atop the main scoreboard in left field is a replica of the Longines
analog clock that was at Crosley Field. An out of town scoreboard
keeping fans updated about other games in progress is incorporated
as part of the left field wall. The bullpens are located beyond the
outfield, the Reds in left centerfield and the visiting team's
bullpen behind the outfield wall near the right field foul pole. A
brewpub, known as the Machine Room Grille is located near the Reds
bullpen and gives fans a place to relax and catch the ballgame with
their friends. The bar features tons of memorabilia from the Big Red
Machine era. Other club and dining options include the
Ohio Championships Club, the Riverfront Club and Diamond Club.
Located between the batters eye and the stands in right field is a
64 feet high and 36 feet wide homerun feature. It consists of two large smokestacks, a paddle wheel and a large
misting system makes noise, shoots fireworks, creates mist and is a
general source of entertainment. After the 2006 season, the Reds
constructed a two story Riverboat Deck on top of the existing
batter's eye and that is used as a party area. The 7,500-foot square
foot rooftop deck holds about 150 fans.
postseason baseball returned to Cincinnati as the Reds won the
National League Central Division for the first time since 1995. The
Reds hope to build on their recent success and return to their
former glory from the 1970s.