Clem's Baseball home

Great American Ballpark
Home of the
Cincinnati Reds
(2003-)




Great American Ballpark
Key (lower deck) (standard) (full view) Riverfront Stadium

Vital statistics:
Lifetime Seating capacity Seating rows
(typical)
Overhang / shade % Territory
(1,000 sq. ft.)
Fence height  CF
orien- tation
Back-stop Outfield dimensions The Clem Criteria:
Built Status 1st deck 2nd deck Upper deck Lower deck Upper deck Fair Foul LF CF RF Left
field
Left-center Center field Right-center Right field Field
asym- metry
Arch.
design
Seat
prox- imity
Loc- ation Aesth- etics Over- all
2003 FINE 42,319 38 14 28 30% 30% ^ 106.1 23.6 12 8 8 ESE 50 328 (368) 404 370 325 5 7 7 7 6 6.4

(Numbers in parentheses are estimated actual distances, which are marked at non-standard locations.)

ALL-STAR GAME: 2015

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Aug. 2002 (u.c.), Aug. 15, 2004 (SD 7, CIN 2); Aug. 15, 2009; July 27, 2014 (WSH 4, CIN 2)

Contrary to what one might think, the name of the Reds' new stadium is not brazen boastfulness, but rather is the name of the insurance / financial services corporation that paid for the naming rights. "Great American"certainly is a beautiful ballpark in a picturesque setting, but it goes a bit overboard in terms of design features. It would seem that the architects were trying to overcompensate for all the flaws of its rather dull predecessor, Riverfront Stadium (a.k.a. Cinergy Field), which used to stand right next to where GABP (as it known for short) is located. (Hence the two-phase demolition.) Like a theme park, it has a big riverboat paddle wheel and two smokestacks beyond center field. Great American Ballpark is wide open, providing good views of the Ohio River (at least for upper-deck fans), whereas the old stadium was fully enclosed. Most notably, there is a gap between the upper decks on the left side behind home. (NOTE: The profiles in the diagram above apply to the respective side of the grandstand they are on.) Also, the upper deck is much smaller on the third base side, with virtually no overhang over the mezzanine deck, quite unlike the first base side. The forward portion of the grandstand roof consists of bare structural beams of uncertain purpose, similar to PETCO Park and Progressive Field.

thumbnail Just as Riverfront Stadium and Three Rivers Stadium shared many design features (and "birthyears"), GABP and Pittsburgh's PNC Park (two years older) bear many similarities. The most notable parallels are the outfield dimensions, the configuration of the seating areas, and the river beyond the right field seats. In back of the center field fence is a shrub-covered slope and the "Batter's Eye Pavilion," a lounge with dark windows. In addition, there is a distinct bend in the fence in dead center field, which was presaged by the similar "bent" fence in "Cinergy Field" during its last two years when the outfield grandstand was demolished to make room for construction on GABP. Foul territory is miniscule, though the curvature of the grandstand in that area is broader than at PNC Park. (much like Citi Field) The correspondingly-positioned scoreboard in left field is the longest one in all of major league baseball, and the upper deck below it consists of true bench-style bleachers. Behind that scoreboard is a huge image of the bat and ball with which Pete "You Bet!" Rose hit his 4,192nd hit, breaking Ty Cobb's record. Between GABP and U.S. Bank Arena on the east side is "Pete Rose Way," part of which is visible in one of the photos below.

There are a number of oddities that make this venue quite unique, and perhaps a little strange. Both the grandstand on the first base side and the right field quasi-bleachers are gently curved, unlike any other neoclassical stadium. Those bleachers are much steeper than normal, and the number of rows declines steadily as it extends toward center field. This curvature of the outside perimeter of the stadium was forced by the curved street alongside the Ohio River. Apparently no one has yet hit a home run into the Ohio River on the fly, though in 2004 Adam Dunn hit one that bounced in. The upper deck on the first base side has a wide concourse that cuts into the profile of the deck, almost dividing it into two. At the far end of the mezzanine level near the right field foul pole is "Riverfront Club" upscale restaurant and a party deck. The very long stretches where the grandstand parallels the foul lines on both sides, especially the third base side, are much like Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Many aspects of GABP have obvious commercial origins, which is understandable given the limited public funding available in a smaller city. There are special party suites on both ends of the mezzanine level. In back of the grandstand behind home plate there is an office building complex that creates a triangular semi-closed plaza, somewhat like behind center field at Turner Field. (The building on the north side is visible in the diagram, but the building on the west side is not.) As you enter that plaza, there is a huge bas relief mural titled "The Spirit of Baseball." Quite appropriate for the home city of the very first professional baseball team. GABP has an excellent location, and recent sidewalk improvements have reduced pedestrians' isolation from the rest of downtown caused by the freeway. Ironically, on top of one of the tallest buildings are the words "PNC Bank," the namesake of the Pittsburgh Pirates' home.

With its cozy dimensions, the Reds' new home gained a reputation for being slugger friendly, though the inaugural year of Great American Ballpark was a disappointment as far as the home team's win-loss record. With the subsequent departure of the aging slugger Ken Griffey Jr. and young slugger Adam Dunn, the Reds were sorely lacking in offensive power. But then came Joey Votto, a leading contender for the 2010 National League MVP award. The Reds surprised nearly everyone and won the NL Central Division that year, and in 2012 as well. New pitchers Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto have added a big boost as well. Cincinnati baseball fans have reason to hope that the glory days of the "Big Red Machine" may come back once again.

SOURCES: Lowry (2006), Pastier (2007), Google Earth, www.blueskyaerialphotography.com


Great American Ballpark left field

Click on the camera icon (camera) links below to see the photos, one by one. Also see the panoramas.

camera #1 The infield and grandstand from center field.

camera #2 Grand view, behind home plate.

camera #3 Grand view, very high, 1st base side.

camera #4 Toward center field from the left field corner.

camera #5 Toward left field from the right field corner.

camera #6 Toward left field from upper deck, first base side.

camera #7 The entry plaza, on the northwest.

camera #8 Infield and grandstand from upper deck third base side.

camera #9 The "Brewery District" -- main concourse, third base side.

camera #10 Bas relief mural "The Spirit of Baseball," near entry plaza.

Photos #1 - #10 were taken July 27, 2014.


camera #11 Grandstand, from center field.

camera #12 Main entrance, on the northwest; also the mural.

camera #13 Center field, bleachers, & Ohio River, from upper deck.

camera #14 Infield, left field from first base side. At bat is Adam Dunn, then leading the majors with 36 home runs. This time he struck out. (Retouched.)

Photos #11 - #14 were taken Aug. 15, 2004.


camera #14 View from across the river, similar to Photo # 8 below. (Aug. 15, 2009)

camera #15 The "Pete Rose Way" garage entrance at the northeast corner. On the building to the right it says, "...Rounding third and heading for home." (Aug. 15, 2009)




 

camera #P1 (below) Stitched-together black and white panoramic view from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River. From left to right: Paul Brown Stadium, Riverfront Stadium, and Great American Ball Park, then under construction. (Aug. 15, 2002)

camera #P2 (below) Exactly seven years later: Panoramic view from across the river, showing the city skyline and Paul Brown Stadium on the left. (Aug. 15, 2009)

camera #P3 (below) Spectacular panorama of the southwest side of the stadium. (Aug. 15, 2009)

panorama

Great American Ballpark:
Chronology of diagram updates


 



NOTE: The diagram thumbnails have been continually replaced since 2008, so the images seen in the older blog posts do not reflect how the full-size diagrams looked at that time. Roll your mouse over the adjacent thumbnail to see a pre-2008 version.

Great American Ballpark
 
12 Feb 2006 26 Sep 2008 11 Apr 2009 20 Jun 2009 01 Nov 2010 24 Oct 2011 30 Sep 2013 29 Aug 2014 17 Jul 2015

Vox populi: Fans' impressions

Have you been to this stadium? If so, feel free to share your impressions of it with other fans! (Registration is required.) Also, I welcome submissions of original stadium photos that fans have taken, and will make sure they get properly credited. Just send me an e-mail message via the Contact page.


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