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CINCINNATI REDS: The Great American Ball Park
The Cincinnati Reds were the first professional baseball team in America. So when they launched plans for a new ballpark in the late 1990s, it seemed logical that history would be the theme of the new venue.
But when the Great American Ball Park (they’re not just boasting, they have a naming rights agreement with Great American Insurance Company) opened, some fans were surprised to discover another theme: riverboats. Yes, the Great American Ball Park is located on the Ohio River, and yes, the river plays an important part in the city of Cincinnati, but the flashing smoke stacks intended to mimic a riverboat in the outfield seemed a little Disneyesque and over the top.
But getting Reds tickets doesn’t necessarily mean you have to feel like you’re on a Disney cruise. With its prime position perched on the river, fans in most sections of the park can watch boats go by on the river at all times of the day. And then there’s the most unique part of the Great American Ball Park’s design-the Reds call it a “notch,” some people just call it a “hole.” Whatever you call it, it’s a large space in the upper deck behind third base that breaks up the upper deck. It looks a little strange, but it achieves its goal of allowing fans in the rightfield Sun/Moon Deck (that’s what they call the bleachers, a throwback to the Cincinnati Reds Crosley Field heritage) to get a glimpse of the downtown skyline.
The Great American Ball Park has all the modern necessities you’d expect from a newer park. There’s a kids play area (although it’s location down the right field line doesn’t allow parents to see the game while the kids are playing), a Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame that covers 16,000 square feet, and a rose garden marking the spot where Pete Rose’s record-setting 4,192nd hit landed at the old Riverfront Stadium.
The Cincinnati Reds are certainly a team on the rise and their attendance at home games is a testament to that. After several playoff appearances under manager Dusty Baker the Reds finally seem ready to break through and make it to the World Series.
Year Built: 2003
‘12 attendance: 29,978 per game; 2,347,251 total
Dimensions: 328 to left, 379 to left-center, 404 to center, 370 to right-center, 325 to right
Hotels Nearby: Westin Cincinnati, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, Terrace Hotel Cincinnati, Cincinnatian Hotel, Hyatt Regency Cincinnati
Thrill of victory: March 31, 2003: The Reds haven’t had much playoff success since opening their new ballpark. However they were fortunate enough to host President George W. Bush as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the first game ever played at Great American Ball Park.
Agony of defeat: Oct. 10, 2010: After winning the NL Central in ‘10 the Reds had a very disappointing showing in the post season. Cincinnati dropped their first two games on the road against the Phillies and headed back to Great American Ballpark handing the ball to Johnny Cueto. The Phils’ Cole Hamels outdueled Cueto in a 2-0 win for Philadelphia, sending the Reds home earlier than they had hoped.
Red Sox Ticket Tips: The Sun/Moon Deck (the name changes depending on whether it’s a night or day game) in right field is perhaps the most unique part of Great American Ball Park seating. The notch cut in the third base stands allows for a terrific view of downtown Cincinnati. Seats down the right field line in the Terrace Box or Terrace Infield Box will give you the best access to the variety of entertainment options located down the line. Curiously, although the Cincinnati Reds have as much history as anyone else in the major leagues, they haven’t really developed that one must-see rival other teams have. Interleague games against the in-state Cleveland Indians are usually a battle, as are contests against the Central Division rival Chicago Cubs or St. Louis Cardinals.