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August 28 - At The Ballpark: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati.

This one simple word epitomizes baseball tradition, beginning with the
Red Legs franchise, and continuing through the days of Johnny Bench,
Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and the entire Big Red Machine.

Many of Cincinnati’s baseball memories were made at Riverfront
Stadium (later Cinergy Field), known for being the home of many Reds
greats and 140-degree temperatures on the rug at field level.

Great American Ball Park opened along the Ohio River in 2003 as Cinergy’s replacement, and while it
is a beautiful facility, can it make some memories of its own?  Let’s find out.

Concessions: A
If you can’t find something acceptable to eat and drink at Great American, you really aren’t looking
hard enough.  There is literally something for everyone here, from ice cream to cheese coneys from
Skyline Chili (a local favorite).  All of the stands are innovatively named, as well, with references to
past executives, managers, and players.  The food selection is plentiful on all levels of the park.  The
only complaint I might have is the prices (a big slice of pizza and a soda was about $8.50), but you
would expect that in a major league facility.

Between-innings entertainment: B
The Reds offered the usual (Kiss Cam), the unusual (a computer-generated race of various Reds
mascots on the scoreboard), and the hilarious (a series of baseball bloopers on the scoreboard).  
The musical selection between innings was also a nice mixture of 80s and 90s stuff (in particular,
hearing Pixies tracks in a baseball stadium was a nice touch), but the song of the game fan vote went
to William Hung’s “She Bangs”, and the inclusion of that in the ballot alone knocks this grade down a
bit.

Sight lines: A+
Much like Louisville, there is really not a bad seat in the house here, and I
had a perfect view of the field from the mezzanine (400) level.  The seats
on the third base line have a direct view not only of the field, but the Ohio
River in the background, and the first base seats have a great field view
and a good line to the gigantic scoreboard high atop the left field
bleachers.  I never had my view even remotely close to obstructed.

Promotions: A
The only promotion the Reds had on this night was the Pyromusical fireworks show, with fireworks
launching over the Ohio River while scenes and music from The Natural, E.T., Pride of the Yankees
and several other films played in the background.  The show lasted well over 20 minutes, and was
dazzling, both because of the fireworks themselves and because of the scenery.  

Parking: A
For a downtown ballpark, Cincinnati really does get it right.  Parking is a bit costly ($20 in the surface
lots near the ballpark campus), but I was able to park in a large garage literally right across US 50
from the ballpark for $10.  I was able to see the garage from the concourse.  Traffic out of the ballpark
after the game was extremely efficient, as well, as there was no real gridlock to be found.  

Player accessibility: N/A
A large storm blew through the area about an hour and a half before game time, and they had a
special pre-game ceremony on the field, so I was unable to see how accessible the players were, if
at all.

Quality of baseball: B
The game itself was great, and seeing Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn in person was quite a sight.  
Both teams were tied at one going into the 8th inning, behind excellent pitching performances from
Arizona’s Javier Vazquez and Cincinnati’s Aaron Harang.  Arizona scored three in the 8th on a Tony
Clark home run, and added two in the 9th.  The Reds mounted a brief rally, but fell short as the
Diamondbacks won 6-2.

Overall grade: A
To be honest, anything I didn’t really like about this ballpark is minor.  Everything was a breeze, from
the parking to the brief walk to the park, the quick escalator ride to the 400 level, the wide concourses,
and the short concession lines.  The ballpark atmosphere was wonderful, which was surprising for a
non-sellout involving a home team that was 20 games out in the NL Central.  I was completely
impressed with every facet of my experience at Great American Ball Park, and I will certainly be
making plans to return in the near future.
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