Spring training is in full swing and opening day is coming up in a little less than 3 weeks, as we continue our tour of all of the baseball stadiums I’ve been to over the years. My most visited city, outside of Chicago, for baseball contains the homes of the Cincinnati Reds. Between the two stadiums that have been located on the riverfront of the Ohio River, I’ve seen 8 games. So, without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at my history with Cinergy Field and Great American Ball Park.
Stadium Name: Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field
Years in Service: 1970 – 2002
Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati’s version of the cookie cutter stadium that popped up in the late 60s and early 70s, opened on June 30, 1970 as the Reds hosted the Atlanta Braves. In 1996, the stadium was renamed Cinergy Field thanks to a sponsorship deal with the local energy company. Prior to the 2001 season, after the Bengals moved to their new home down the street, the stadium was reconfigured for baseball-only use, and portions of the outfield stands were removed to make room for the construction of the Reds’ new home, the future Great American Ball Park. The 2002 season was the final one for the stadium, with the final game played on September 22 and the stadium was imploded on December 29.
In 2000, Ken Griffey Jr. joined the Cincinnati Reds, which put two of the most feared sluggers in the game in the NL Central. When Sammy Sosa and the Chicago Cubs were scheduled to make an opening week visit to Cincinnati in 2000 to face Griffey for the first time, the idea a roadtrip was hatched. Friday, April 7, 2000 started with Krispy Kreme donuts at the house before heading towards Cincinnati. Along the way, there was a brief stop at Purdue. because why not, and the trifecta of a KFC/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut seemed like a good place to stop for lunch. We arrived in Cincinnati well before the stadium opened, so some time was spent walking around the bustling metropolis that was, and continues to be, Cincinnati.
Our tickets were in the upper deck and, to be honest, I have little to no recollection of the game itself. My one and only memory of the game is losing my balance and tumbling down 5-10 rows, landing on a group of fans below. Certainly not my proudest moment. I do recall some of the drive home after the game, which included listening to the White Sox/A’s game where Jose Valentin committed a number of errors for the eventual AL Central champs.
Stadium Name: Great American Ball Park
Years in Service: 2003 – Present
After 32 1/2 seasons at Riverfront Stadium, the Reds moved next door to the newly built Great American Ball Park for the 2003 season, opening against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bronze statues of former stars Joe Nuxhall, Ernie Lombardi, Ted Kluszewski, and Frank Robinson are located in front of the main entrance.
Less than a month into the stadium’s existence, I made my first trip to the GABP with my friend Scott, who had moved to the Cincinnati area, to see the Reds take on the Padres. The next season, the Cubs opened their season in Cincinnati against the Reds, so another trip was in order, where Vice President Dick Cheney threw out the first pitch.. In August of 2005, I attended the Reds game against the Diamondbacks, kicking off a string of 3 stadiums in 3 states in 9 days. In 2006, the Cubs once again opened their season on the road against the Reds and again it constituted a road trip down to see, where this time President George W Bush threw out the first pitch. I made a return trip that summer for interleague play to see the White Sox battle the Reds. In 2007, when the Cubs were looking the clinch the division, I made the trip down, but missed it by one day. The next year, I made my final, to date, trip down to Cincinnati and saw the Rockies defeat the Reds.
Of all the newer stadiums that have opened over the past 20 years, Great American Ball Park does not often illicit the praise that the others get. However, I like it. It’s a fine place to see a game and has plenty of the modern amenities that are required here in the 21st century. I wouldn’t hesitate to return, despite the fact that it has been over 11 years since I’ve been there.