Great American Ballpark is home to the Cincinnati Reds, the fifth oldest continuing MLB team and one with the oldest origin. Overlooking the Ohio River, this Cincinnati ballpark is the sixth home of the Reds since 1891 and is a retro-modern design. Opened in 2003, Great American Ballpark became an instant hit with baseball fans for its innovative features, relaxing ambiance, and breathtaking views.
During the early 1990s, the Reds found Cinergy Field or Riverfront Stadium, their home for two decades, lacking to offer an enchanting experience to fans. Efforts were made to build a new ballpark with facilities defining a professional sports franchise. In 1996, Hamilton County approved a 0.5% increase in sales tax to fund separate new stadiums for the Cincinnati Reds and the NFL franchise the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cincinnati Reds agreed to pay $2.5 million a year rent for the first 10 years and $1 annually for another 25 years. Great American Insurance paid $75 million for a 30-year deal to acquire the naming rights.
The Reds desired a more up close and personal game ambiance for fans while their previous ballpark was more inclined toward football than baseball experience. When completed, Great American Ballpark boasted all of this and became one of the “most hitter-friendly” baseball stadiums. On March 31, 2003, the Cincinnati Reds faced their archrivals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, on this field for the first time. Ken Griffey Jr., a Hall of Famer in baseball, was the first player to hit a home run in the new ballpark.
Design and Features
Great American Ballpark followed the examples of American Family Field, T-Mobile Park, and Minute Maid Park to become a retro-modern baseball stadium. HOK Sport (now Populous) designed the ballpark that cost about $290 million. The ballpark street was named after the Reds’ pitcher and broadcaster Joe Nuxhall in 2007.
The Spirit of Baseball
It is a 50-foot-by-20-foot monument at Great American Ballpark to inspire every baseball fan to cherish. A young baseball player admires the heroic figures of a batter, catcher, and fielder. This Indiana limestone bas relief sculpture near the main entrance represents all. Set against the backdrop of many of Cincinnati’s riverfront and union Terminal, this is an artwork by Berberich Design. However, local designers and artists contributed to creating it between 2001 and 2003.
The Centerfield “Smoke Stacks”
Two smokestacks in the right-center field of Great American Ballpark flash lights, emit flames, and unleash fireworks to applaud the home team’s efforts. It reminds fans of the days of the steamboats that were popular on the Ohio River in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Until 2011, steam spewed out of the stacks after a strike or hit by a home player. In 2012, fire replaced the steam. Every time the Reds hit a home run or win, stacks emit fireworks as a showcase of celebration. The seven baseball bats on both smokestacks represent Pete Rose‘s shirt number 14.
Two 160-sq. feet mosaic panels at Great American Ballpark depict two pivotal periods of the Red’s history. Located next to the main gates of the Crosley Terrace, these two sculptures are created between 2001 and 2003 with opaque glasses imported from Ravenna, Italy. The First Nine mosaic celebrates Red Stockings, the first incarnation of the Reds from 1869 to 1889. It was the first US professional baseball team with eight salaried players and won its first season 57-0. The Great Eight commemorates the Reds’ team that won the World Series in 1975 and 1976. It was then called the Big Red Machine by the joyous fans.
Great American Ballpark has the sixth-largest scoreboard in the MLB. With a size of 218 feet, the state-of-the-art scoreboard is also the 15th biggest among all US sports venues. The Reds spent $4 million to add the LED board in 2009, which saw extensive upgrading of video screens to HD.
Concessions and Facilities
Great American Ballpark has 63 suites and 4,235 club seats. There are 47 restrooms, 14 elevators, and 28 concession stands. When the ballpark hosted the 2015 MLB All Star Game, the Reds added two new bars while renovating concession stands. The main entrance plaza has a memorial remembering of the “inclined left-field terrace” of Crosley Field, where the Reds played between 1912 and 1970. The plaza’s Crosley Terrace also has statues of Joe Nuxhall and three of his team members, who were fan favorites during the Reds’ Crosley days. All these statues are in the playing mode.
Next to the west wall of the baseball stadium lies the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. It has galleries and multimedia presentations depicting the life and achievements of the Cincinnati Reds’ greats. Its first floor has a movie theater, reminiscent of the old era. There are several vintage photographs in the second-floor hall, which also has a three-story wall with balls commemorating every run scored by Pete Rose. Interactive exhibits and a baseball simulator are on the third floor. There is a rose garden near the Hall of Fame building.
The 35-feet “two-level gap concourse” linking the home plate and third base provides a scintillating view of the downtown and the city skyline. Fans at the ballpark also have exotic views of Mt. Adams and the Ohio River. The panorama extends as far as northern Kentucky. Great American Ballpark donates a red Toyota Tundra pickup when a home player hits the “Hit Me” logo on the Toyota Tundra Home Run Deck.
Riverboat Deck at Great American Ballpark is the place to host private parties. Riverfront Club has dining arrangements with luxurious facilities, sumptuous food, and a panoramic view of the ballpark and the Ohio River. In 2015, the baseball stadium opened a nursing suite with glider chairs, a kitchen, nappy-changing tables, lockers, and TV screens.
Great American Ballpark hosted several music concerts, election rallies, and memorial services.
Purely Baseball Things To Know
- Great American Ballpark hosted the 2015 MLB All Star Game.
- The Cincinnati Reds lost the opening game at Great American Ballpark miserably 1-10 to the Pittsburgh Pirates 10.
- Reds star Ken Griffey Jr. scored the first hit on the inaugural day and it was a double.
- Kenny Lofton the first to bat at the ballpark had a ground out.
- The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame has been there since 1958. However, it got a standalone facility only in 2004.
- Russell Branyan hit the first grand slam on July 21, 2003.
- On October 1, 2010, more than 9 years after its opening, Great American Ballpark hosted the first playoff.
- Pitcher Aroldis Chapman of the Cincinnati Reds threw a pitch at 105.1 mph speed on April 18, 2011. It is the fastest recorded baseball pitch in the world and also finds a place in the Guinness World Record.
- Adam Dunn’s home run on August 10, 2004, traveled 535 feet landing into the river and making it the longest hit at Great American Ball Park.
- On July 1, 2011, Brandon Phillips scored his 1,000th hit.
- Homer Bailey threw the first no-hitter on July 2, 2013. The Cincinnati Reds routed the San Francisco Giants 3-0.
- On April 21, 2016, a no-hitter by Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs led to the MLB’s most lop-sided game ever played since 1884. The Cubs won 18-0 against the Reds.
- Jay Bruce hit a massive match-winning homer on September 28, 2010, against the Houston Astros and the Cincinnati Reds won the NL Central Division title.
- On June 6, 2017, Scooter Gennett became the first player of the Reds to score four homers in a game. The Reds beat the Cardinals 13-1.
- Reds’ right fielder Ryan Freel ran and made a spectacular dive to catch a shot from Albert Pujols on August 8, 2006.