Though it opened in 2003, the 2015 season appears to be Great American Ball Park’s crowning moment. What was initially thought to be a “good enough” ballpark lacking the flash of its contemporaries, the riverfront ballpark has steadily grown into one of baseball’s hidden gems. Under Reds owner Bob Castellini, GABP has stepped up everything from the concessions to the club’s history displays to the video boards, all with an eye towards hosting the 2015 MLB All Star Game.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The ballpark already had a decent collection of local brands in the concourses. Burgers from Frisch's Big Boy, Larosa's Pizza, and ice cream from United Dairy Farmers joined the typical ballpark fare giving fans more choices. In recent seasons, that has been built upon with the additions of stands for Taste of Belgium waffles and craft beer stands from Moerlein Lager House. An interesting addition in 2015 is a custom ice cream bar station. Located next to the Brewery District, you can choose various toppings and dips for your ice cream bar for $6.
The 2015 season saw the club expand on its beer program after last year's addition of the Brewery District (third base side; lower level). The park has added several self serve stations on both levels. After paying funds on a card, you can swipe and fill your beer in about 20 seconds at banks near the team shop on the lower lever and in three areas on the view level. For the most part, you'll just find Budweiser/Bud Light, but the team has stated that they may roll out more adventurous options for the machine in the future.
Joining the popular Machine Room as another restaurant option in the park is The Handlebar. Located on the second level near the right field corner, the new space offers a buffet style menu and a full bar for either $65 or $85 (which covers everything except alcohol) depending on the day of the week. The downside here is, though the space now opens into the ballpark, you don't get a direct view of the game (there is a giant tv screen). For a nice view, you can purchase all-inclusive $120 rail seats.
Note for the Machine Room: Since there is limited outdoor seating with ballpark views, the park now has set minimum spending levels for this area.
The major addition in 2015 is the right field scoreboard. Some locals bemoaned the board blocking views out over the river, but with the ballpark's orientation, there's not much the structure is interrupting. Adding the board gives the large number of fans in the left field corner and bleachers a place to catch replays and out-of-town scores without craning their necks to see the main board in left.
Outside the seating areas, the ballpark is filled with pieces of the team's history. Giant newspaper displays of historic events, murals and photo displays of iconic moments are scattered throughout the concourses. Outside the physical building, bronze statues of numerous team greats welcome fans through the main entrance and the rose garden outside the first base line recognizes the beloved/maligned hit king, Pete Rose.
This all culminates with the team museum. If you have time, a visit to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum is well worth the $10 admission. The museum features spaces for significant documents, radio replay booths, a theater, kids areas and a gallery devoted to the team's championships, and the Big Red Machine. Currently in 2015, the museum is featuring special exhibits on the team's numerous all stars and also on the legendary 1B/3B Tony Perez. Additionally, the museum offers ballpark tours. For $20, you get a 90 minute guided tour plus museum admission is included.
It's taken longer than fans might have wanted, but The Banks, the riverfront development outside of Great American, is finally coming into its own. What was for many years surface parking lots now feels like a city neighborhood with numerous convenient bars and restaurants for pre and postgame (Holy Grail Tavern being a popular spot) as well as condos and corporate offices surrounding the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. All this, along with the opening of the Smale Riverfront Park, has given this area the feel of a real urban extension of downtown Cincinnati, rather than just a seasonal sports-focused development.
For better context of the area, here's a video from The Banks:
The Reds Opening Day is basically a city holiday. The afternoon parade in the leadup to game time is an institution unto itself as 2015 marked the 96th edition. Even if they don't have tickets to the game, people still don Reds gear and celebrate the city's unofficial welcome to spring.
Generally a calm bunch, families shouldn't expect issues in most areas of the park except perhaps the bleachers.
Attendance-wise, building off the 2015 All-Star momentum, turnout has remained strong even with the team's lackluster play. With attention so focused on the team this year, even a moderately competitive team would've packed the place. Still, 31,000 fans a night for a team that fell off fairly quickly is a respectable figure.
Parking in the garage under GABP and The Banks will run you $20. If you're willing to walk just a couple blocks you can save $5-$10 at garages in the Queen City Square building (entrances on both Broadway & 4th Street) or various lots along 3rd Street (the E-W route just north of the highway through downtown). I'm probably giving someone's secret spots away, but if you time it right you can find cheap on-street parking in the area around the Lytle Park area about three blocks north of the ballpark or on the backstreets around the western edge of downtown near the corner of 4th & Race Streets. That's still only a 10 minute walk. Traffic will be tight to get into the garages next to the stadium up until first pitch so you're not really saving much time.
Parking across the river is still a good option with cheap on-street parking usually plentiful after business hours. There are also surface lots and a garage at the Newport On The Levee development, both of which should run less than $5 on game day.
The Reds racked up a total of $166.62 on the Team Marketing Reports Fan Cost Index, putting them far below the MLB average. On just cost alone, it's one of the better values in Major League Baseball. Unfortunately for locals, the team seems to be on the verge of a rebuild and the team has struggled on the field for most of the 2015 season. Trading Johnny Cueto to the Royals for a trio of young pitchers near the trade deadline signaled that perhaps 2015 isn't the Reds year.
The first extra is for ownership making more improvements to the ballpark. Things like the new board and improved mobile connectivity are the latest steps in keeping the park on the cutting edge of the fan experience.
Seeing not just the team, but many local art and history organizations all focus on the history of baseball in the city is a really amazing effort. For tourists and locals alike, it provides an incredibly rich experience showcasing various facets of the team's history.
The team is competitive in terms of offering added value through packages. There are various ticket deals focusing on Fireworks Fridays, family deals, and concession credits. Even if the secondary market doesn't work out, there are still many ways to find some savings on tickets.
Another point for the team still allowing outside food in, which is somewhat unheard of these days. Even in the cheaper seats, a night at the ballpark can still add up for families. Being allowed to bring in your own food can really help cut that cost.
The team museum is really a wonderful asset. The club has so much to mine, it's great to have an accessible place for fans to see the club's history on display.
The 2015 season ends the All Star era of Great American Ball Park, so now what? All these improvements were done with the city hosting the mid-summer classic, which from all accounts was a success, and now that that's over, what can fans expect in the years to come?
Ownership has promised that there will still be measured improvements to the Reds game experience but held off on specifics. While the ASG is behind them, the club will have another major event to look towards in the years to come; 2019 will be the club's 150th season as a professional ball club. Given the successful event in 2015, fans should expect more enhancements in the lead up.
In 1869 Ulysses S Grant was president, sliced bread was not yet invented, and the Cincinnati Red Stockings played their first professional baseball game. That team would become a charter member of the National League in 1876 and the Cincinnati Reds that we know today.
Great American Ball Park has been the home of the Cincinnati Reds since 2003. It is often forgotten when discussing some of the best in baseball, but given the history of this organization and the beauty of the venue, this easily deserves to be called one of the best ballparks in baseball.
Great American Ball Park (GABP) officially opened its doors at the beginning of the 2003 season. Located on the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, it serves as the home of baseball's first professional team, the Cincinnati Reds. Despite the team still looking for its first winning season since moving in, Great American Ball Park remains a wonderful place to watch a baseball game.
I was there for the Kyle Farnsworth/Paul Wilson fight some years ago. Great take down by Farnsworth. Overall, I thought the venue was ok, but nothing special. I hope to get back this year.
Cincinnati really nailed this one on the head.
I enjoyed every minute of my visit to Great American Ballpark and the renovations made in the summer of 2007 gave the ballpark even more life. Parking was my only complaint but even then its wasn't that bad. Fans are very passionate and friendly.
I will check it out again.
We got to this great park in plenty of time to take a stroll along the river, and parked in a lot not two blocks away from the field for $10...great deal as far as MLB parks go. From there, we ate at the Machine Room Grille, a bar that is located in the left field corner of the park and opens three hours before the game. They had some outstanding pulled pork there, and we had it on top of hot dogs and potato skins. Wash the food down with a cup of Cincinnati's own Christian Moerlein been, of which they had two of their best on tap. In the field, the park staff are very accomodating, and during BP we got right up close to the field and got autographs. It was an incredibly hot day, and there is little cover in the seats, but the vendors were handing out cups of ice like it was going out of style, and the vendors that came into the seats were throwing ice and squirting people with Supersoakers. The fans could not have been cooler, even with me proudly wearing my Cubs jersey. The view of the river hearkens to Pittsburgh and the Roberto Clemente bridge. There is tons of stuff for kids to do, like batting cages, fast-pitch throwing, and a mascot race much like Milwaukee's racing sausages. Also in the ballpark grounds is the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame, though by the time we found it, we didn't have enough time to make the lofty $10 entrance fee worthwhile. However, it is the second largest baseball hall of fame next to Cooperstown, and we heard many satisfied customers leave the exhibits. All in all, it was a great experience!!!
Great American Ballpark is home for me...and is easily my favorite ballpark. I take pride in knowing more about the ballpark than some of the employees and being considered a source of knowledge by the ushers and security in the area where I have my season seats. It is a wonderful park and a great place if you want to watch baseball or have a fun day out!
This is a pretty good baseball ballpark. The food cost an arm and a leg, but they do have specials on food if you look for them.
It is close to all the fun in N. KY.
I give a star for a good location, another for great views of the river and downtown and another for the hall of fame located adjacent to the ballpark. And the final star for allowing fans to bring food into the park. They lose a star for banning smoking a few years ago.
I currently live in the Cincinnati area and go to a lot of games here. The atmosphere has improved as the club has gotten better but for the most part find the fans to be average. The ballpark seems to cater towards the family experience which is not really what I am looking for coming from growing up at Wrigley. Not much atmosphere around the ballpark although they are working to develop it. This is definitely a ballpark and team that is trying to get better.
One of the best ballparks in the mlb. Has great views from any seat in the stadium. The atmosphere is great. The food is good (Larosa's so good). Parking is easy. Plenty of things for the kids to do. Just great park and a fun team.
Beautiful park. Not a whole lot around the park in Cincinnati but walking around the grounds of the park amazing. Shop was nice and big with a great selection. Fans where great, I defiantly would go back.
I went in 2009 and for the most part when it came to the new ballparks in baseball, I kept hearing this is one of the "worst."
I can't figure out why. It is a very nice place to watch a ball game and anywhere (probably save for LF) would be a great view. The place was neat, clean, and just smelled of baseball. I grew up going to games at Tiger Stadium and you had that smell in the park where you knew you were in a baseball stadium. You don't really have it at the new parks.
Seats were comfortable and having red seats instead of blue or green for a change was neat.
The biggest memory of the park was actually going to the Reds HOF and Museum. With the storied history that the Reds have it is a must do if you haven't been there.
My ONLY complaint about the park was the fans. And I am not thinking the Reds fans are bad but it seemed like they kept it to themselves and were lukewarm whenever the Reds had a rally in the game. Worse, a lot of the fans (was setting by the moon deck in RF) were heckling the visiting team's relievers. It is fine, but when you start crossing over to racial barriers and going into about their families, then that is where it gets inappropriate.
But overall, one of the best stadiums I've been to.
I grew up in Cincinnati, as a child I went to games at Crosley and later Riverfront. I always had a good time at every game. It didn't hurt that I was watching some of the greatest players of their time, but both of these ballparks were lacking in areas. This has all been erased with GABP. I love watching a game here.
My first visit to GABP was during the first season, and I have to say that it was almost like the stadium wasn't finished. The exterior view plain and didn't help that there was still a pit from where Riverfront was. But since this time the HOF has expanded it's collection (I think it's the best team HOF that I have visited), and the area around the ballpark has been developed with plenty of restaurants and bars nearby. The interior, which was plain in the early years, has really improved. The addition of riverboat above the batter's eye is a very fun place to watch the game. In addition the food has gotten so much better - can't beat Graeter's Ice Cream!
I may be biased, but THE Great American Ballpark is the best neighborhood to just walk around for hours before the game. Don't miss the Reds Hall of Fame
Great stadium with fantastic views of the river. The skline chilli dogs is like medicine for the soul and the crowd loves it baseball. One of the best baseball atmosphere's that I have ever seen.
This ballpark had great food and beer selections as well as a nice neighborhood/area. The big drawback to the park was the inability to actually see the river from most seats. The team's museum and team store were top-notch. There isn't much else that's really remarkable about the stadium.
Food & Beverage:
The food (and beer) selection at Great American Ball Park (GABP) is outstanding. There is the standard fare of course, but there are also tons of local favorites to be had. I highly recommend Mr. Reds Smokehouse down near the right field foul pole. Can’t go wrong with Skyline cheese coneys either.
Cincinnati is a baseball town plain and simple. The fans are passionate and knowledgeable. GABP provides a great family atmosphere, especially during the Sunday home games.
It has taken some time (almost 10 years) but the area between GABP and Paul Brown Stadium (home of the Bengals) is finally coming around. Known as “The Banks”, the area along the riverfront is packed before and after most Reds games. There are several restaurants/bars/breweries to choose from. I’d suggest either the Moerlein Lager House or The Holy Grail, both of which are directly across the street from the stadium.
As I said, the fans are passionate and knowledgeable about their Reds. With the team making the Postseason 3 times in the past 4 seasons, attendance is on the rise and during the summer the park is packed for most games. You won’t find the same sort of rowdiness you see in the bleachers at Wrigley or Yankee Stadium, but the fans love their Redlegs.
With the stadium situated in the middle of downtown, traffic can get a little messy at times, but that should be expected. There are several highways within a few blocks of the stadium, so any traffic there may be usually thins out fairly quickly. Parking is easy to find and generally pretty cheap. For night games you are able to park at a metered spot in downtown after 6PM for free. Parking in Kentucky and walking across the river on one of the several bridges is also a good bet.
Return on Invest:
Tickets are among the cheapest in MLB, and with the ability to bring in your own food, you get a great value. Food and drink inside the stadium is on par with most other stadiums I have visited, but there are a few ways to save some money. There is a concession stand in the upper deck that has hotdogs, small bags of peanuts, and small sodas for $1 each. Most concession stands also offer one free refill on any soda which is great for hot summer days.
No review of GABP would be complete without mentioning the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. It is said to be the best baseball museum outside of Cooperstown, and I believe it. Well worth the price of admission.
Went to a game recently at GABP and sent most of my time before and after the game in Kentucky at Covington on the Levy. It's a cheap place to park, with plenty of good places to eat, and a resonable walk to the game. GABP is one of the underrated venues in baseball, and one that I thoroughly enjoy every time I visit.
I really enjoyed visiting the Great American Ball Park for the first time. Views from the upper deck out over the water were nice. The neighborhood nearby had some great offerings. We parked on the KY side of the river at the shopping center called Newport on the Levee and then had a short walk over the bridge to the stadium. Newport on the Levee has many restaurants, movie theatre, shopping and an Aquarium that can be enjoyed before or after the game.
Food & Beverage - GABP has a great mix of traditional ballpark fare and local favorites. Beyond the traditional hot dogs, nachos, etc., GABP also features booths for United Dairy Farmers ice cream, Skyline Chili, and LaRosa's Pizza. This season, the Reds have added the Brewery District, a bar with 60 tap craft brew bar. Prices are also around the MLB average.
Atmosphere - When the moment calls for it, GABP can get fairly raucous. After every Reds home run, the only thing that drowns out the fans are the fireworks from beyond right field. After every strikeout, flames shoot up from the smokestacks in right field, honoring the Ohio River's steamboat heritage. The Reds do a great job of playing up their team's history. The Reds Hall of Fame & Museum is located across Crosley Terrace from the entrance to GABP, with statues of many Reds greats outside the entrance. Inside GABP, the history is played up as well.
Neighborhood - GABP is located in the quickly developing area known as "The Banks". It is a short walk to several close restaurants and only a short walk to Fountain Square, where there are more restaurants as well.
Fans - Cincinnati is a baseball town. It is clear when you walk towards the ballpark with red as far as the eye can see, especially on the weekend. Reds fans love their team, and anyone who has had an issue with a Reds player gets the expected response. When the situation calls for it, Reds fans can get fairly raucous.
Access - GABP is easy to get to off of I-71/75 with quite a few parking garages in immediate vicinity of the ballpark. Parking is also available across the river in Newport and Covington, with shuttle service for $1 per ride that pull up within 2 blocks of the ballpark.
Return on Investment - Finding tickets for cheap are relatively easy. For example, the Reds offer Sunday tickets where purchasing one full price ticket, you can get up to 3 tickets non-premium tickets for half price.
Extras - The Reds Hall of Fame next door gives a great history of professional baseball in Cincinnati for $10. If you go through, allow yourself an hour and a half to fully explore everything it has to offer.
Food: Great sausage sandwiches(Bratts and Mets). Skyline Chili. A restaurant/bar in outfield called the Machine Room.
Atmosphere: great. I am a Reds fan, so very partial.
Nice downtown location on the river. Right next to entertainment area known as the Banks: Moerlein Lager House, Toby Keiths, Yard House, Holy Grail, and several others. Across the river in Kentucky is Newport on the Levee. Many food and drink options close.
Access: easy walk from downtown, and from Kentucky side. Parking $20 on site, and gets cheaper in town. Can take bus from Ky called the South Bank shuttle for $1. Can take river boat from Hooters in Ky for $5, round trip.
R: you can sit up stairs in corners for under $10. If you have a PNC Bank Reds debit card, certain seat sections are half price, Sunday thru Thursday.
E; mini baseball field for kids on the concourse.
The Cincinnati Reds, baseball’s first professional team, have called many parks home since their founding in 1869. Notable parks like the Palace of the Fans (1902-1911) and Crosley Field (1912-1970) have been overtaken by modern Cincinnati with little to remind fans of the greats that took to the ball fields. In 1970, the Reds headed to the city’s riverfront, joining the NFL’s Bengals at Riverfront Stadium, a multi-purpose stadium whose legend was created in spite of its cookie-cutter design by legendary teams like the Big Red Machine of the 70’s and the 1990 Wire-to-Wire World Series Champs.
As the new ballpark trend hit in the 90s, Reds ownership began angling to get their replacement to Riverfront. After a sales tax vote and debate over where a new ballpark should be located, the Reds would get their new venue. The new park was to be built on a site between Riverfront and the U.S. Bank Arena, earning the nickname during construction of ‘The Wedge’.
Opened for the 2003 season, Great American Ball Park often gets overlooked amongst the crowd of modern ballparks. However, team ownership has been proactively upgrading the ballpark, creating a venue that has grown and matured well over its 12 seasons. The team was rewarded for this with the announcement that GABP will host the 2015 All-Star Game, an honor the city hasn’t hosted since 1988. Great American Ball Park has turned into a park befitting of the team’s history and is also a major component of the ongoing rebirth of Cincinnati’s riverfront.
It is a great ballpark!!
I was pleasantly surprised how nice GABP is. It is located near the banks of the Ohio River. The surrounding area is full of quaint bars and restaurants, and the outside of the stadium has lots of statues dedicated to many Red's greats. I parked quite a ways from the park due to the road construction in the area, but things are sure looking up for the downtown Cincinnati area.
925 Riverside Dr
Cincinnati, OH 45202
115 Joe Nuxhall Way
Cincinnati, OH 45202
161 Joe Nuxhall Way
Cincinnati, OH 45202
151 W 5th St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
150 W Fifth St
Cincinnati, OH 45202