|Great American Ball Park / Cincinnati Reds|
|Page 2: Touring the Ballpark|
|Page 3: History Throughout|
|Page 4: Where to Stay|
Themed ballparks always seem a little gimmicky. That's why we were a little apprehensive before visiting Great American Ball Park, the home of the Cincinnati Reds. As the home of the first professional baseball team, Cincinnati is a well-known baseball hotbed, and a great area deserves a great ballpark. But the Reds make a big deal about the riverboat theme throughout the ballpark -- something that made us a little apprehensive. Is GABP a great ballpark? At times, yes; at times, no. Despite our misgivings about a themed ballpark, in the end the riverboat accouterments didn't bother us a whole lot.
Architect: HOK Sport, Kansas City
Dimensions: 328L, 379LC, 404C, 370RC, 325R
Ticket Prices (2009): TBA
League: National League
Parking: Plenty of local lots surrounding the ballpark. If you drive to the ballpark, you'll see plenty of signs pointing you toward parking facilities.
Directions: 100 Joe Nuxhall Way, Cincinnati. Main Street runs parallel to the Ohio River to the south of downtown Cincinnati, and at the ballpark it turns to Joe Nuxhall Way. All the major freeways -- I-75, I-71, I-471 -- feature easy, well-marked access to the ballpark. From I-75, use the exits at Freeman Avenue and 7th Street; from I-71, use the Gilbert Avenue exit; from I-471, use the 6th Street exit.
The ballpark benefits from a great location and a consistent (though sometimes busy) design. What did bother us, however, was the relatively disjointed nature of the ballpark seating; by breaking up the ballpark into so many disparate elements, you don't always get the feeling you're part of a community event. In the end, the disjointed nature of the ballpark kept us from naming Great American Ball Park as one of the best ballparks in the majors, though the many nods to the Reds' rich history makes it a top-notch facility.
First, let's address the themed aspects to the ballpark. Cincinnati is a riverfront city -- the ballpark, in fact, sits on the shores of the Ohio River and was threatened with flood damage in the winter of 2004 -- and as such there are some riverboat elements to the ballpark, particularly in the outfield. Take a look at the picture above: to the left is a building designed to look like the bridge area of a riverboat, and next to it is the front end of a riverboat. They are not purely decorative: the bridge building contains a group area and ballpark workers, while the riverboat is used as a observation deck. In addition, the sponsored steamboat lights up when a Reds player hits a home run. In the end, we really didn't see the need for both; the steamboat was borderline cheesy and the bridge superfluous. (The steamboat does have one redeeming factor: it contains misters, which can be refreshing on a hot day.)
The sections next to the steamboat comprise the Sun Deck/Moon Deck, which are designed to be evocative of similar bleacher seats at Crosley Field, the team's former home. (For day games the bleachers were called the Sun Deck; for night games they were called the Moon Deck. Waite Hoyt called those bleachers Burgerville because of the many patrons sipping on a cold Burger Beer.) These are some of the best seats in the house (which we'll discuss later).
In the greater scheme of things, the riverboat elements really don't distract too much from what's right with Great American Ball Park -- which is a lot.
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