For many in baseball, Riverfront Stadium was just another cookie
cutter baseball stadium. For fans in Cincinnati it was a place where
they could come to see the Reds play each summer. It was
the home to many great players and some of the best teams in in
baseball during the 1970s with the Big Red Machine.
As early as the 1940s discussion for a new stadium for the Reds was discussed.
Talks did not
intensify until the 1960s when owner Bill Dewitt wanted a new
stadium built in the Blue Ash area of Cincinnati. He wanted a dome
stadium built here but the city wanted a new stadium built downtown
along the riverfront. Crosley Field was no longer a viable option
because of its age, it was land-locked by Interstate 75 and the neighborhood was
blighted by the 1960s. For a time there was talk that
Dewitt may move the team to San Diego. However he sold the team to
local investors in 1966 ensuring that the Reds would stay in
Cincinnati. After the American Football League awarded Cincinnati a
franchise, the Cincinnati Bengals, a new stadium on the Ohio
River was built. Named after its location, groundbreaking for
Riverfront Stadium occurred on February 1, 1968.
After over two years of construction, the Reds played their first game at Riverfront Stadium
on June 30, 1970 against the Atlanta Braves.
Riverfront Stadium was similar to every other multipurpose, cookie-cutter stadium built in the late 1960s
and early 1970s. It had a capacity of 52,952 for baseball and 59,754 for football on four levels. The lower (blue) level
seats stretched from the left field foul pole to homeplate around to the right field foul pole. The other three levels green, yellow
and red circled the playing field. A three level parking garage
accommodating 2,500 cars encased the stadium with the
entry gates to the stadium on the second (green) level. Fans had to walk down ramps to get to the field (blue)
level of seats. The scoreboard was located above the
centerfield seats in the upper deck. In order for the stadium to be
converted to football,
the lower field box seats for baseball from home plate to the left field
foul line were moved on wheels so the field could be converted to a football gridiron.
Few changes occurred at Riverfront Stadium during its first 25 years. In 1996 the
naming rights were sold to Cinergy Corporation and Riverfront Stadium
was renamed Cinergy Field. During this time both the Reds and Bengals sought to have new,
stadiums built. The Bengals moved out of Cinergy Field and into
Paul Brown Stadium in 2000.
In 1998, the Reds
announced that a new ballpark would be built next to Cinergy
Field. In order for construction to begin, approximately 14,000
seats from the outfield were removed after the 2000 season.
bullpens were relocated behind the right field wall. With the
removal of 14,000 seats the Reds installed natural grass, replacing
the Astroturf. For two seasons Cinergy Field looked like an actual
ballpark. During the 2001 and 2002 seasons fans attending games at
Cinergy Field no longer had to stare at empty seats beyond the outfield fence.
Instead they could see the Ohio River and the Reds new ballpark, Great American
Ball Park being constructed. The Reds played their final game at Cinergy Field/Riverfront Stadium
on September 22, 2002. The stadium was demolished on December 29, 2002 and part of the site
is now part of Great American Ball Park.
FACTS & FIGURES
Cincinnati Reds (MLB), Cincinnati Bengals (NFL)
52,952 (original), 40,008 (final)
Astroturf (original), Grass (final)
July 16, 1970
-Closed: September 22, 2002
December 29, 2002
330-L, 404-C, 330-R (original), 325-L, 393-C, 325-R
Heery & Heery and Finch, Alexander,
Barnes, Rothschild and Pashal