Clem's Baseball home

Riverfront Stadium*
Former home of the
Cincinnati Reds

Riverfront Stadium

Mouse rollover.

baseball: 2001 baseball: 1970 lower deck upper deck combined football the site today Cincinnati stadiums
Crosley Field Great American Ballpark
Key to diagrams

* known as "Cinergy Field" (late 1996-2002)

Lifetime Seating capacity Seating rows
Overhang / shade % Territory
(1,000 sq. ft.)
Fence height  CF
orien- tation
Back-stop Outfield dimensions The Clem Criteria:
Built Demo- lished Lower deck Mezz. Upper deck Lower deck Upper deck Fair Foul LF CF RF Left
Left-center Center field Right-center Right field Field
asym- metry
prox- imity
Loc- ation Aesth- etics Over- all
1970 2003 52,952 30-46 5 28 10% 65% 110.4 23.3 8 8 8 E 59 330 375 404 375 330 1 4 5 7 3 4.0

ALL STAR GAMES: 1970, 1988 ARTIFICIAL TURF: 1970 - 2000

WORLD SERIES: 1970, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1990.

BEEN THERE: October 2000, August 17, 2002 (drive-by, both times)

Along with Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, this was probably one of the blandest of all the boring "doughnut" stadiums of the 1960s and 1970s. The field was artificial turf, and the outfield dimensions were perfectly symmetrical with no distinguishing features whatsoever. However, the baseball-to-football reconfiguration was done somewhat differently than others of its class: the left side of the lower deck was swiveled approximately 75 degrees into left field, while the right side stayed put. Thus, in similar fashion to RFK Stadium, the football gridiron lay at about a 15 degree angle from the right foul line, rather than straight from home plate to center field. The front row of seats was about five feet above the ground, ideally suited for football but not for baseball; that's why the "dugouts" were at ground level. The upper deck was larger than other stadiums in this class, and featured a wide lateral walkway to facilitate fan entry and exit. This resulted in a 7-8 foot vertical wall on the outer perimeter of the walkway, so it was not necessary to gouge out gaps in the seating rows to accommodate the entry portals as is typically done in upper decks; the upper-deck entry portals were beneath the seats, as indicated in the upper-deck diagram above. Another unique structural feature is that the stadium was built on top of the parking garage.

The only big positive aspect to Riverfront Stadium was its scenic location on the banks of the Ohio River. You couldn't see that view from the inside, however, and a freeway separated it from downtown Cincinnati, so fans had to cross a pedestrian walkway. To prevent floodwaters from ruining everything -- as happened twice at old Crosley Field, the Reds' former home -- a huge retractable flood wall was built.

Riverfront Stadium had its origins in the shady wheeling and dealing among city governments and sports promoters in the 1960s. The Reds knew they needed public funds to build a new stadium, but the only way to recoup the investment was to create a new pro football franchise so that the stadium would generate revenues through the autumn months. The promise of a big new stadium facilitated the creation of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968, who played here from 1970 until 1999, after which they moved into their new home, Paul Brown Stadium, just to the west.

Whereas Philip Lowry's Green Cathedrals indicates that it was 51 feet from home plate to the backstop until the final two years, when it was reduced to 41 feet, a newspaper account about the 2001 conversion of "Cinergy Field" (see below) gives 49 feet as the 2001-2002 distance, while confirming a reduction of ten feet. That implies that it had been 59 feet from 1970 through 2000, which nearly matches my estimate of 60 feet based on photographs.

thumbnail Seldom has a new stadium had such a dramatic apparent effect on the home team's fortunes. Almost as soon as they moved from Crosley Field to Riverfront Stadium in June 1970, the Reds emerged from decades of frustration and became known as the "Big Red Machine," winning World Series titles in 1975 and 1976. Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose were the big stars from that era. In 1990 another generation of Reds won the top prize, just as Pete was banished from baseball for life because of overwhelming evidence that he had gambled on major league games...

Even as plans were underway to replace it, in the latter months of 1996 the name of the stadium was changed to Cinergy Field, after the Cincinnati-area utility company. To make way for construction of the Reds' new home -- the "Great American Ball Park" -- demolition crews began tearing down the outfield portion of Cinergy Field in October 2000. (I caught a glimpse of a crane at the site as I drove by that same month.) The construction site was literally just beyond the outfield fence, and only a few feet separated the new stadium from the truncated portion of the old one. For the last two years of its existence, the outfield dimensions of Cinergy Field were reduced considerably: 325 feet to each foul pole and only 393 feet to center field, where a 40-foot high fence prevented too many easy home runs. Under this squeezed-in configuration, there was a distinct bend in the center field fence, rather than a broad circular arc as before. Also, real grass was planted, and the bullpens were moved from foul territory to behind the right field fence, but with fake turf. Riverfront Stadium was demolished in late December 2002.

SOURCES: Lowry (2006), USA Today / Fodor's (1996), Bess (1999)


camera PHOTO #3
Spliced-together panorama from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River, showing, from left to right, Paul Brown Stadium, the truncated portion of the former Riverfront Stadium, and Great American Ball Park, then under construction. The three original color photos had sharply varying hues due to the angle of the sun, so I converted the panorama to black and white.

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

camera PHOTO #1 Approaching "Cinergy Field" from the west side. (All three photos were taken August 17, 2002, a 100-degree day.)

camera PHOTO #2 "Cinergy Field" and Great American Ball Park, the central portion of the Photo #3 panorama.

Cinergy Field

Riverfront Stadium:
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.

Riverfront Stadium
17 Sep 2005 01 Jan 2008 09 Sep 2009 07 Jul 2012 08 Apr 2013 17 Aug 2018 12 Oct 2018 16 Apr 2019

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.

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Copyright © Andrew G. Clem. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your agreement to the Terms of Use.