Since 2011, I have participated in the AP Human Geography Reading in Cincinnati, Ohio, which means I have gone to a number of Cincinnati Reds games – specifically 11 games over the last five years after this visit. However, I did not post about my first visit to Great American Ball Park, but after starting this blog I wrote about my visit in 2012 while combining it with my visit to a Dayton Dragons game (read it here).
As I’ve grown my blog and the stadium underwent renovations in preparation for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game, I decided that I should write a more complete entry about the stadium. So I decided that I would write about my first visit to the stadium this year, which was a Friday night game between the Reds and Washington Nationals.
So after making the usual mile trek from my downtown hotel to the ballpark, I captured what most fans see as they come to Great American Ball Park.
|“The Spirit of Baseball” sculpture designed by Mark Riedy.|
The sculpture is part of the Reds’ office space and varies based upon sunlight and artificial light, but really what people care about seeing when coming to the stadium is the actual main entrance.
Outside the main entrance there are multiple statues honoring former players, the team’s main gift store, and the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. There are nearly too many statues honoring players to photograph, after all the Reds are the oldest professional baseball club and claim a history dating back to 1869. So I don’t have photos of every single statue, but did capture some noteworthy players’ statues and one of the most recent additions, a mustache.
|To promote the 2015 MLB All-Star Game the Reds commissioned mustache statues that are now throughout Cincinnati.|
In homage to the franchise’s history the Reds created a monument in front of the main entrance called the “Reds Legends of Crosley Field” that was designed by Tom Tsuchiya. The sculpture includes Joe Nuxhall pitching, Ernie Lombardi catching, Frank Robinson batting, and Ted Kluszewski waiting on deck.
|“Reds Legends of Crosley Field” monument that honors of team’s former home field (1912-1970).|
The Reds also have some decorative shrubbery by the main entrance that has become a popular place for fans to take photographs.
|Decorative shrubbery by the main entrance.|
Besides the imaginary baseball game featuring former star players there are two other sculptures by the entrance recognizing some of the Reds greatest and most beloved players: Tony Perez and Johnny Bench.
|Tony Pérez (1964-76, 1984-86) was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.|
|Johnny Bench (1967-83) was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989.|
So what do fans see when they walk into the concourse?
|First sight upon entering the stadium.|
There are also two mosaics called “The First Nine” and “The Great Eight,” which commemorate the 1869 Red Stockings (the first professional baseball team) and the 1975-76 Reds teams known as the Big Red Machine that won back-to-back World Series titles. Both mosaics were designed by Mark Riedy, who also designed the bas relief that welcomes fans outside the stadium.
|“The Great Eight” and “The First Nine” mosaics that are immediately inside the main gates.|
There are a lot of great food choices, but I ate before the game on this particular night. So I don’t have the typical food photo to share, but have shared a pair of signature Cincinnati food items on Twitter from previous visits.
Gotta have pair of @Skyline_Chili cheese coneys when I’m at @Reds game during #APReading. pic.twitter.com/nd1LJE4qm9
— Steven Ericson (@geoSteven) June 4, 2014
Completed the @CincinnatiUSA food trifecta with @LaRosasPizza at @Reds game. #APHGreading pic.twitter.com/MYbZhTJl1c
— Steven Ericson (@geoSteven) June 8, 2015
Food porn photos aside, the options at the concession stand cover the spectrum, but most notably incorporate a lot of items associated with food in Cincinnati.
|The hot dog and sausage stand is known as Porkopolis, which was a nickname given to Cincinnati in 1835
because the city was a major hog packing center.
|LaRosa’s Family Pizzeria was founded in 1954 in Cincinnati, but now has stores in nearby Kentucky and Indiana plus Dayton.|
There’s also a burger chain…
|The Big Boy statue by the Frisch’s Big Boy concession stand.|
Additionally, there are Skyline Chili stands throughout the stadium that serve not only the namesake chili, but also coneys (a hot dog topped with chili and shredded cheese).
Beyond hot dogs, beer might be the most famous ballpark item, and Great American Ball Park does not lack for a selection of excellent local craft beers. Near home plate there is an extensive bar that features macro brews, but also great Cincinnati-brewed beers and some solid regional choices from Kentucky and other parts of Ohio.
|Brewery District Bar near home plate.|
For fans along the first base line and in the outfield there is another large bar.
|Bootleggers Bar along the first base line.|
By Bootleggers Bar there is a sign commemorating Cincinnati’s brewing heritage, which runs very deep. It may not be as well-known outside the region because there are no major macro breweries in town nor is the craft beer industry as well established here as elsewhere around the United States (read about it here), but Cincinnati has a rich brewing history that recently has begun to be celebrated.
|Sign showing off the Cincinnati Brewing Heritage Trail.|
While exploring the concourse I happened to encounter one of the team’s mascots: Rosie Red.
|Me with Rosie Red.|
Perhaps one of the most unique things I saw while walking around the terrace level was a special seat between the Sun/Moon Deck in right field and the Power Stacks in right center field is a vacant seat designated to the memory of American prisoners of war and and those missing in action.
|The Chair of Honor was dedicated in 2014.|
But enough of the concourse, what do fans see what sitting in their seats? After all, fans comes to games to watch a game not tour a stadium, right? Well, most fans come to watch the game. I generally do, even when I explore and check out the unique components of a new ballpark I’m visiting for the very first time.
So onto the game’s first pitch from my seat high above the field.
|Reds starting pitcher Brandon Finnegan getting ready to deliver the first pitch
to Washington Nationals center fielder Ben Revere.
The most unique feature of the outfield has to be the riverboat above the batter’s eye in center field. Cincinnati was once well known for its riverboat, and still has some in service now that do tours along the Ohio River.
|The Riverboat Deck in center field.|
Along side the riverboat is a pair of smokestacks, which are a staple of the vessel. Additionally, highlighting the smokestacks allows me to point out the secondary videoboard in right field that was added during the 2015 in advance of the All-Star Game.
|Right field’s Sun/Moon Deck with the secondary videoboard alongside the PNC Power Stacks, which shoot fireworks.|
With the secondary videoboard in right field, the stadium’s primary videoboard stands over the left field bleachers.
|With the bases loaded early in the game, the videoboard features a graphic referencing a common phrase
used to describe the situation.
While enjoying my view from the upper deck, I was able to capture a photo of the pitcher’s mound.
|Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez.|
I have shown off most of the stadium except for the seats down the first base line, where the JACK Cincinnati Casino Champions Club is located. It is a member’s only club that features a buffet along with seating inside and outside. It had been the Riverfront Club, which was open to all stadium-goers, but it was renovated prior to the 2015 season and became a members-only area.
|View down the first base line featuring the JACK Cincinnati Casino Champions Club.|
The stadium faces the Ohio River, which is great because so much of Cincinnati’s history is tied to the river. However, the views into Kentucky can be considered a little lackluster as there are no skyscrapers or other stunning sights. So in order to get views of the city’s skyline fans need to walk to the outfield. Normally fans wouldn’t be able to see much of a skyline outside a stadium because the upper deck would block the view, but Great American Ball Park has a specially designed gap that allows fans to see the downtown Cincinnati skyline.
|View of Great American Insurance Group Tower, headquarters of the namesake sponsor of the ballpark.|
While capturing the view of the skyline, I also got a photo of the grandstand behind home plate. Naturally this includes the press box and many of the luxury suites, but all of the franchise’s retired numbers are also honored
|View of the grandstand behind home plate with the press box and the franchise’s retired numbers.|
As the oldest professional franchise in baseball, the Reds have a lot of retired numbers (read about them here). So I won’t detail all of them, but instead focus on the one number that was not posted when I attended this game in June: Pete Rose’s #14. Following Rose’s banishment from MLB in 1989, the Reds did not retire his number. Finally entering this season the Reds announced they would retire his number. A few weeks after my visit the team fêted Rose as part of a weekend-long event that also honored the 1976 World Series (read the details here).
The first game I attended in Cincinnati was on a Friday, so following the Reds victory over the Nationals fans got treated to a fireworks show.
|Fireworks over the Ohio River.|
|Fireworks above the Sun/Moon Deck in right field.|
|A colorful fireworks display.|
Great American Ball Park really does live up to its name. It is a great American ballpark. It has wide concourses. It has tons of concession stands with local-inspired options. It has lots of great craft beer selections. It has great architecture. It has a penchant for incorporating history into the stadium.
There is one very minor drawback about the stadium. The views from the seats are good, although the Kentucky hilltops aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing. However, the stadium beautifully incorporates views of the Cincinnati skyline for fans sitting in the outfield.
Despite this minor drawback, the stadium lives up to its name. It is a great American ballpark.
Final Score: Washington 2, Cincinnati 7