A general view as Logan Gilbert of the Seattle Mariners pitches to Noelvi Marte of the Cincinnati Reds in the fifth inning at Great American Ball Park on September 06, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
CINCINNATI – Great American Ballpark, the modern home of the Cincinnati Reds built as a replacement for the concrete donut that was Riverfront Stadium, is an above-average modern ballpark.
The red seats remind you just who the home team is. The faux riverboat smokestacks that shoot flames following home runs and strikeouts. Around the concourses, concession stands harken back to the Palace of the Fans, the Reds’ home ballpark well over a century ago, with fake facades saying “Cincinnati,” a prominent feature of the old park that was demolished and replaced by Crosley Field over the 1911-12 offseason.
While the Ohio River runs just beyond the right field wall, it’s unseen by most fans. The ballpark lacks the outfield views of Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, where downtown Pittsburgh and the Allegheny River are visible, partly because the ideal site for a ballpark with a view of something that unmistakably says, “You’re in Cincinnati!” is occupied by Paycor Stadium, the home of the Cincinnati Bengals.
As one former Cincinnati Red pointed out to me, a ballpark built on the site of Paycor Stadium would potentially have the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, a National Historic Landmark opened in 1866 linking Cincinnati to Covington, Kentucky, just across the Ohio, in view from the seats.
In all, the ballpark is nice, clean, and mostly unremarkable – another new ballpark that doesn’t have anything so distinctive to make a lasting impression.
That said, don’t miss the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, located just outside the stadium in the same building as the team store. For $12 admission, the Reds Hall of Fame has a tremendous collection of artifacts from professional baseball’s oldest organization.
Ticket Prices – 5/5
Even with the Reds a game out of the last wild card spot, tickets were easy to come by. I was able to score a pair of tickets in section 406, the left field balcony, for $20 on StubHub including taxes and fees for the Sept. 19, 2023 game against Minnesota. The next night, we sat fewer than 10 rows from the field for less than $100 total. There’s good value to be had on the secondary market if you find yourself in Cincinnati and want to catch a game.
Access From The City – 4/5
If you’re staying in downtown Cincinnati, as we did, it’s an easy walk to Great American Ballpark. If you’re driving from elsewhere, you might have to park and walk a ways. But the ballpark is right off the highway and just across the bridges from the Kentucky suburbs across the river.
Concessions – 3/5
The concession stands had a good beer selection with a lot of microbrews. Cincinnati favorite Skyline Chili has several stands throughout the ballpark. I had a brat with sauerkraut, which was decent, and an IPA the first night, all for around $22, pretty standard for a ballpark meal.
Game Experience – 3/5
Great American Ballpark tends to be a little on the loud side – there were a lot of kids, so every time the Scream-O-Meter was on the scoreboard, they were screaming. But the music wasn’t overpowering, the focus was on baseball, and as an added bonus, the seats on the right and left field lines are oriented towards the diamond, making viewing a tad easier.
Overall – 3.25/5
Cincinnati is a pleasant city. The downtown is clean, with multiple steakhouses, bars, hotels, and a convention center. The ballpark is a nice place to watch a game, though it lacks features that would truly make it unique.
Editor’s note: This piece represents the opinions of the author and not those of the World Baseball Network.