This year, 2003, brings a new look to Major League Baseball and the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. On March 31, 2003, the baseball season officially opened and as part of the festivities, the Cincinnati Reds presented their new home, Great American Ballpark. This new stadium, built exclusively for baseball, replaces the old Cinergy Field (a.k.a. Riverfront Stadium).
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Background of This Stadium:
Cinergy Field/Riverfront Stadium was a mainstay in Cincinnati for more than 30 years. Home to both the Reds and the Bengals, Cinergy was a multi- purpose stadium built in a round, fishbowl style with seats running in a circular pattern around the field. This old stadium was sorely outdated and in need of replacement. The Bengals had already moved to a new home, Paul Brown Stadium, several years back. Cinergys days were numbered and on December 29, 2002, the old stadium was imploded and reduced to rubble.
Great American Ballpark was under construction long before the implosion took place. This new park cost $280 million to build and it was named after the Great American Insurance Group, a local corporation that paid $75 million (payable over 30 years) for the naming rights. The name, Great American Ballpark, is a little misleading if you dont know the facts. Most people, when they hear the name, think its a generic title that the owners decided to give to the park. But in reality, its the name of the Great American Insurance Group. They could have called the stadium Great American Insurance Ballpark, but they wisely left out the word Insurance to make it sound more all- American and less corporate. I'm sure that other corporations in the Cincinnati area took part in the bidding war for the rights to name the stadium, and I don't have any doubt that there were probably higher bids. But Great American Insurance has a name that fits nicely with baseball, so it was awarded the contract.
Basics of This Ballpark:
As you approach the main entrance to Great American Ballpark, you cant help but make comparisons to the old Cinergy Field (that is, if you happened to visit the old park). This new park has a main entrance that is situated directly behind home plate. There are other entrances to the park, but this is the main one and its large and wide open. With Cinergy Field, there was no main entrance. Instead, you had gates that circled the park (I think there were 14 of them), and they were all identical. There was no grand entrance, like with the new park.
Walking inside Great American Ballpark, you are greeted with lots of specialty concessions and you are right at the level of the field. The walkways are wide and the park is more breezy. Thats because the outfield is open toward the Ohio River, so you are more likely to get hit by wind than in the old park, which was completely enclosed. The entire main level can be walked around, and that includes the outfield area. Since this outfield part is open, many fans will enjoy walking back here, behind the outfield seats, and catching a view of the Ohio River overlooking Kentucky.
If your seats are on one of the other levels (there are a total of 4), you can get to your designated area either by using the stairs, the ramp, or the elevator. Regardless of the location of your seats, all areas are open to everyone to walk to. You cant necessarily walk into any of the seating areas, but you can walk onto each level and check out the concessions.
The address of this new stadium is 100 Main Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45202, and its located right on the Ohio River, just to the east of where the old ballpark was located. Paul Brown Stadium (home to the Bengals) is located to the west, close to I-75.
Great American Ballpark has a seating capacity of 42,059. The distance from home plate to the left field wall is 328 feet. To center field, the distance is 404 feet. To the right field wall, the distance is 325 feet.
Great American Ballpark offers a multi- level pricing system with seats that range from as little as $5.00 (Outer view level, in the upper corners of the stadium) each to as high as $50.00 (Diamond seats- behind home plate). There are special party seats that are rented out to groups and are not available to the general public. These special seats are located in the second level and they feature private boxes and seating areas that are primarily under cover, to protect from the rain.
Diamond seats are already sold out for the entire season. The best one can get at this time are the Terrace Infield Box seats, which sell for $30. Other price levels include $25 for Terrace Box; $20 for Terrace Line; $16 for View Level Box and Mezzanine Infield; $15 for Terrace Outfield; $14 for View Level Box or Mezzanine; $11 for View Level Infield; $10 for Bleachers; $9 for View Level; and $5 for Outer View Level.
There are a few special dates throughout the year, when the ticket prices are cut in half. Some of these special days include Reach Magazine Family Games; Senior Citizen Days; College Nights; and Teen Nights.
Great American Ballpark does offer a wide selection of food and drink. In addition to the usual ballpark fare, like hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, peanuts, etc., there are other choices, too, like chicken, barbecue sandwiches, pork chop sandwiches, even some full- service ice- cream stands with an assortment of cones and sundaes. There are dozens of beers to choose from and you can order mixed drinks, too. The choices are more plentiful than they were in the old ballpark.
Food and drink are rather costly at Great American Ballpark, but this is common at most baseball parks nowadays. A slice of pizza, for example, will cost you about $4.00. A hot dog sells for $2.00. An ice- cream cone sells for $2.00 to $3.00, depending on the size. And the most obscenely- priced items are the beverages. A glass of soda pop will cost you anywhere from $3.00 to $4.00. A 16 oz. glass of beer will cost from $5.25 to $6.25- enough to make many people consider smuggling in their own booze to avoid the high prices.
Great American Ballpark is a welcome addition to the city of Cincinnati! For those who once had to endure the old Cinergy Field, you will be very pleased when you enter this new facility. Its not as large as the old park (actually, it has about 10,000 fewer seats), but its much nicer and much cozier. Its superior in most every way to the old park.
Each part of the stadium offers a pretty good view of the field. Great American Ballpark isnt as tall as the old Cinergy Field and thats good for those who purchase seats high up in the park. Even these nosebleed seats are really not that bad. They still offer a good view- far better than the one in the old park. Another thing thats good is that the seats are not nearly as steep as they were in the old Cinergy Field. At Cinergy, the upper Red level seats were often a very scary experience for those who were acrophobic. The reason is because they were very steep and when you sat in them, you often felt the sensation of losing your balance and falling forward. The new ballpark is different. Even at the highest level of the stadium, you dont get that falling feeling that you did in the old ballpark and the view is superior.
Speaking of the view, this is something that you should consider, if you decide to visit Great American Ballpark. The majority of the seating levels offer a nice, scenic view of the Ohio River and the city of Covington, Kentucky. This is not true, however, for the lower level seats. If you decide to purchase one of these more expensive seats, near home plate, you will have a close- up view of the field but you wont be able to see the Ohio River. Its a matter of preference, I suppose, but I like being able to see the river and watch the riverboats and speedboats go past the stadium. It distracts from the game, yes, but the view is enjoyable.
Another consideration to make when it comes to your choice of seats is your preference for sitting in the sun. If you attend a daytime game, you will be in the direct sunlight no matter where you sit, until about 3pm. At this point, the seats on the right field side (the west side of the stadium) will slowly become shaded from the sun. The other seats in the park will still be in direct sunlight. So, if your preference is to avoid as much sun as possible, then you should try to purchase seats on the right- field side. If you like the idea of bagging some uvs, then you should try to sit on the left- field side of the stadium.
I like the fact that Great American Ballpark allows fans to wander all over the park. With the old stadium, you couldnt walk down to field level, even to purchase food or drink from the concessions. You had to have a field- level ticket to walk down there. Now, the field level is right there, as you walk in. There is no restriction on what levels you can walk on, which allows fans the opportunity to explore the park and choose whatever food, drink, or merchandise they want from any level. Also, the concessions in the new park on the upper levels are far superior to the old stadium. You will probably find that you dont need to wander around much at all, to get what you want. Still, its nice not to have this restriction.
There is one way that you can save yourself a little money on the high price of food and drink. Great American Ballpark does allow fans to bring in their own beverages and food, as long as they use a soft- sided cooler thats no larger than 16 by 8 by 16(women often stuff things in their purses, which is acceptable too). There are a few rules that you must follow. You cant bring cans or bottles into the park. Your beverages must be in plastic bottles or paper containers and you cannot bring any alcohol into the park (many people do, anyway, because of the high prices). If the seal is broken on a plastic bottle of pop, you will not be permitted to bring it in. You will have to empty it out, or finish it before you can enter the stadium. All carry- in bags and coolers are subject to inspection, before you can enter.
There are a few bad points to make about Great American Ballpark. First and foremost is the lack of parking. The immediate stadium area has very little parking space- fewer than 1,000 total spaces, I believe. Because of this, you will have to find a place to park in the downtown area and walk over, OR park on the Kentucky side (on a side street where there is no parking fee) and then walk over the bridge. Parking downtown will cost you anywhere from $5 to $10, depending on the location. Also, if you feel safe, you can park your car on the street in downtown Cincinnati. As long as its after hours or on a weekend when the parking meters are not enforced, you wont have to pay for parking.
Another somewhat bad point is the restrooms. I cant speak for the ladies rooms, but the mens are very similar to those found in the old ballpark. Each restroom features about 3 walk- in stalls and a row of about 12 or so urinals. There are no dividers between the urinals- they are all right out in the open. I was expecting a little more modernization, with more privacy and more germ- fighting amenities (like automatic faucets, so you dont have to touch the knob), but there are none to be found.
Overall, Great American Ballpark is a very good baseball- watching facility. Its much, much better than the old Cinergy Field, both in terms of concessions offered and with the open views of the Ohio River. Some of the food and drink are costly, yes. But when you compare this to the cost of attending most other sporting events, a day at a baseball game is still a bargain.
Visit Great American Ballpark, and see the new home of Americas oldest professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds. Its not perfect, but its much more cozy and inviting than the old Cinergy Field and its still located right on the Ohio River, with excellent views of the surrounding areas.
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Parking Availability: Better Get There Early
Seat Location: Outfield/Endzone