No. 13: Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati

Great American Ball Park was the first stadium in which we saw multiple games.

Bark in the Park at Great American Ball Park

We took Holmes to his second MLB game thanks to one of four Bark in the Park days the Reds host during the 2018 season.

We then went to a second game with friends who visited from the Nashville area.

Seeing multiple games offered us another opportunity to explore the stadium — especially because we were rather restricted on where we could go with Holmes for the first game.

ACCESSIBILITY:

Patti says   (4 RVs)

It’s not Boston, but we certainly had the luck of the Irish upon us when we traveled to Great American Ballpark. We could have thrown a baseball and hit the stadium from our parking space on the street. There are also other relatively inexpensive options starting as low as $5 for getting to the area and parking.

Ron says

This is one of the easiest parks to get to. We found free street parking for both games within a block of the Reds Hall of Fame gate.

Great American Ball Park is just off Interstate 71 and, while there is some heavy traffic as you get closer to the stadium, it’s not nearly as bad as other cities.

Cincinnati Bell Connector — Cincinnati’s modern streetcar system — is another easy and inexpensive option to get to the stadium.

ATMOSPHERE:

Patti says

Holmes at Great American Ball Park on June 5

The first game we attended was the Bark in the Park and fans had fun with their dogs, some of which were decked out in Reds gear. Holmes told me he really liked Great American Ballpark, but he might have been swayed by the hot dog and he only has Nationals Park to which he can compare. Personally I think it is a good, but not a great stadium. Apparently they have made improvements since it first opened.

Views of the Ohio River, the Riverboat Deck and the towering Great American Insurance building make it interesting and there do not appear to be any bad views of the field itself.

During the second game it was raining, and there was really no place to keep dry and watch the game from the upper deck. However, there are plenty of places on the first level to watch the game continue in the rain.

Ron says

Unfortunately for Reds fans in 2018, their team just isn’t very good. It would have been nice to see the Big Red Machine during the franchise’s heyday in the 1970s.

Today’s Reds often play in front of a half-filled stadium and, when they’re playing a team like the Cardinals, many of the fans in attendance are rooting for the visiting team. That said, the Reds fans who do go to home games are into it.

There are Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench jerseys scattered throughout the park, as well as jerseys for the current crop of players like Joey Votto and Scooter Gennett.

FOOD: 

Patti and Ron both say:

Cincinnati-style chili isn’t our thing. Neither are the chili dogs at Great American Ball Park. We each tried a “Coney” chili dog at the stadium and were extremely disappointed. First, they’re tiny. Second, they’re so loaded with cheese, that’s pretty much all you taste — cold, shredded cheese and bun.

There is also very little variety in concessions options at Great American Ball Park. While there is the traditional ballpark fare, you have Skyline Chili, Frisch’s Big Boy and Porkopolis and that’s about it. There is the Handlebar restaurant, but that requires a special ticket to access.

Patti did have a goetta burger, which is a German inspired meat-and-grain sausage. It sounds better than it tastes.

VALUE: 

Patti and Ron both say: 

Cincinnati is a great place to see a Major League Baseball game without spending a lot of money. Tickets are inexpensive, parking is simple and even the concession prices aren’t bad.

The team and food may not be great, but the price is right.

MISCELLANEOUS / EXTRAS: 

The first thing we saw when we walked into Great American Ball Park with Holmes on June 5 was the Kroger Fan Zone Wiffle Ball field, which was full of kids playing a game. The stadium, which offers a wonderful view of the Ohio River, has plenty of other things to keep kids entertained if they’re not that interested in the game.

Cool mural with the 1975 “Great Eight” of the Big Red Machine and the original 1869 club

There are also several nods to the team’s history. The Reds were founded in 1869 and are the oldest MLB team still in existence. The Reds are a tradition-rich club and that is not lost on anyone visiting the club. One of the coolest homages to that history is a mural depicting the “Original Nine” in 1869 and the “Great Eight” club of the 1970s.

There are also 14 total bats atop the two smokestacks of the faux steamboat in center field. Those 14 bats are a subtle nod to Rose, who is baseball’s hits king. A not-so-subtle nod is the Pete Rose Garden that features a white rose where his record-breaking hit landed.

THE CITY OF CINCINNATI: 

Cincinnati’s John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge is gorgeous at night

We had a good time in Cincinnati. From walking around the gorgeous riverfront park with Holmes following the first game to visiting the zoo the day after our second game, it was easy to find things to do.

The Cincinnati Zoo is a lot larger and more impressive than we had anticipated. To see everything, plan an all-day trip. The Carew Tower has a 49th-floor open-air observatory with the highest view of the Cincinnati area. You can look into part of Great American Ball Park and see how the Ohio River zigs and zags to form the border with Kentucky.

Downtown Cincinnati and Great American Ball Park from atop the Carew Tower

Just outside the Carew Tower is Fountain Square with an elaborate water sculpture as the featured centerpiece.

Walking across the Purple People Bridge, which hosts weekly events, is another must when visiting Cincinnati.

Be sure to stop in the middle so you can stand in two states at the same time. Once on the Kentucky side, you’re in the middle of a massive riverfront shopping entertainment center chock full of restaurants.

In two states at the same time on the Purple People Bridge

There is a 20-screen AMC theater, including an IMAX screen, and the Newport Aquarium gives you an opportunity to walk among sharks.

Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood is also dotted with multiple murals among the many restaurants in the area.

Another must is Rhinegeist Brewery, which is housed in a unique and giant space in the Over-the-Rhine area. The brewery, which is just a block away from a vast farmers’ market, is kid-friendly with pinball machines, cornhole, a foosball table and an actual dinosaur fossil dug up in Montana by the University of Cincinnati and on loan from the Cincinnati Museum Center.

If you’re hungry in Cincinnati, eat anything but the chili. It’s not chili. It’s just a weird spaghetti that you can do without. Instead go to The Eagle OTR, where you can enjoy some of the best fried chicken we have ever tasted and work it off by strolling through the revitalized neighborhood.

Home Run On Wheels, Home Run On Wheels

Follow Ron and Patti as they travel in their RV to all 30 MLB stadiums in 2018. Along the way, they will write stadium reviews, talk about food, baseball and life in an RV, and how you can help a child in need.
There will also be features with MLB players and other sports figures along the way.

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