With its opening on
March 31, 2003, Great American Ball Park became the second ballpark
to be built on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati. In the
1990s the Reds and the Bengals (NFL) began to want separate modern
stadiums after sharing Riverfront Stadium for nearly three decades.
The idea for a new ballpark for the Reds was first raised in August
1993 when officials stated that a new ballpark would help the team
compete with other teams in baseball. By 1996 Hamilton County voters
approved a bond to increase the sales tax to fund new stadiums for
the Reds and Bengals. Two locations were proposed for the Reds new
ballpark, Broadway Commons and along the riverfront, in an area
between Riverfront Stadium and US Bank Arena, known as the 'wedge.'
For over a year
officials debated which location would be best for a ballpark, most
preferring the riverfront. 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 came to a lease agreement 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.
Cincinnati Reds christened their second ballpark on the riverfront
on March 31, 2003. 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, a point most fans pass through before 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 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 in the Crosley
Terrace. Located 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 hit 4,192 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. The feature,
consisting 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.