Cincinnati, or The Queen City, is the home of the Bengals, King’s Island, some weird tasting chili – but most importantly, MLB’s first franchise. The Red Stockings were started in 1869 when Ulysses S. Grant was the President. Wow, that’s old. But anyways, I have been living in Cincy since May why not do a stadium review of GABP.
The stadium was built in 2003 so it is relatively new with many modern features. The structure really does mimic the likes of Camden Yards in Baltimore or even Turner Field in Atlanta. The outside layout with a big scoreboard seemed to be the basic blueprint of the time, but Cincinnati does separate itself in a couple of different ways. GABP is on the mighty Ohio River and borders my home state of Kentucky.
Cincinnati is a smaller media market city so getting to the ballpark is easier than some venues and it is within a few hours drive from other big Midwest cities ( Indianapolis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Chicago, Detroit, and even St. Louis). The traffic on the Interstate 71 & 75 is always a problem though. There is so much road construction and so few lanes on each major highway, so inevitably there is traffic. Take a note Ohio DOT, build more lanes!
The baseball stadium is right next to the football stadium and hockey arena so there is plenty of parking down on the riverfront. The parking prices are going to range from $5 to $20 just depending on how much you are willing to walk. The $20 parking is literally under the stadium and there is a special staircase to get to it. It’s pretty cool. But, I would recommend parking at the parking garage on the corner of 4th and Main Street. The garage is only a few blocks away from the stadium is $7 for every game. NOTE: Other parking facilities prices can change for different games and events.
Cincinnati is the home of cheap baseball tickets. I don’t know if it’s the Red’s recent NL Central struggles or Ohioans paying more attention to that football team in Columbus (which I despise) but ticket sales are obviously down in the Queen City. If you are looking to go to a game, I would recommend using a ticket outlet such as Stubhub. This ballpark does have a ton of outfield seating, so if you are looking to catch a homerun you will have numerous seats to choose from. Last night, I was able to set right behind the dugout for 15 dollars a ticket. NOTE: Tickets will be more expensive on the weekend, so the cheapest seats will during the week.
Pretty decent seats, Huh?
Here is the greatest weakness of GABP, the food choices. Ballpark food has been an American staple for years and yes, this stadium does have the normal choices such as hot dogs, hamburgers, and popcorn. I don’t think anybody buys CrackerJacks anymore. Great American does offer some unique choices such as local food chains like Frisch’s Big Boy (hamburgers and fries), Penn Station Subs (you can only get a cheese steak though), Skyline Chili (two chili cheese coneys seems to be a fan favorite and I still don’t know why), and LaRosa’s Pizza. While walking through the main concourse does resemble getting off an exit on the Interstate, there are other food selections.
Every ballpark nowadays seems to have a unique or crazy food item and in Cincinnati it would be the helmet nachos. For only 16 dollars, you get a plastic baseball helmet filled with gooey chicken nachos. It is pretty epic and quite tasty. The greatest place to eat in the ballpark however would be Mr. Redleg’s Smokehouse Grill which offers BBQ specialties and items from local favorite Montgomery Inn. The Grill even offers a specialty plate for the town of the opposing team. Last night, the Twins were in town so the specialty was a Walleye fish sandwich.
Unlike the food, Cincinnati has a GREAT beer selection with reasonable prices. While the vendors will be carrying the usual domestics, the Brewery District on the third base side offers various local and regional craft beers. This District is more expensive but for all those weird IPA fanatics/hipsters, this is the place to be. I would recommend the Sugar Stop which is located behind third base. It resembles a small convenience store but it has numerous beers in the coolers and candy on the shelves. What a great combination plus you don’t have to tip the beer man.
GABP also has different places to get mixed drinks and even wine for all those bored at the game. Bootlegger’s down the right field line and the stadium restaurant, Machine Room Grill would be the best choices for mixed drinks. BowTie Bar right behind the right field foul pole would be the best place to grab a beer and watch the game not at your seats.
Unless your favorite team is in the NL Central or in Cleveland, you will have a great time at this ballpark. Cincinnati does have some of the best fans in baseball. They are very friendly and faithful to their Reds. These fans are also very knowledgeable of the game. This is a trait that every true baseball or even sports fan should respect. I know this because I have been to some ballparks with bad fans and bad situations. In addition, the stadium staff is very friendly and always helpful for any situation.
Also, the players are always willing to sign autographs in this stadium. The ushers are very accommodating for young fans or even older fans trying to grab a signature. Fan favorite Todd Frazier is always seen signing autographs for fans, which is a great sight to see. This really keeps the crowd coming back and getting a signature can be a lifelong memory for a young fan. I have actually had great luck with opposing team autographs in this stadium. Last night, I was fortunate enough to meet Twins great Torii Hunter during the rain delay, which was super awesome.
Yeah that’s me with Torii Hunter, but no biggie. AND I’m not a Twins fan, but I’m a Minnesota Wild fan and there’s a long story behind that.
Before/After the Game
Cincinnati does have numerous great restaurants and bars right around the stadium such as Morelein Lager House, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar, and fan-favorite Holy Grail Tavern. Right across the Ohio, Newport on the Levee offers great riverfront dining and nightlife entertainment. This area is within walking distance of the stadium. Just walk across the bridge and you’re there. Attached to the stadium would be the Reds Hall of Fame, which offers great exhibits on the history of baseball’s oldest team and artifacts from their five different championship teams. I would be careful around the stadium at night with various panhandlers that could cause a problem, but this is something that will be at any MLB ballpark. Just keep walking. While you are in Cincy, I would recommend eating at Montgomery Inn and order some of those crazy delicious ribs. Or you could test your luck at the Horseshoe Casino or do some shopping in the Over the Rhine district.
So the next time you are in the Queen City, go on over to Great American Ballpark and catch a Reds game. You will be glad that you did. Also, I am very excited to see how the stadium will host the 2015 MLB All-Star Game. A new scoreboard has just went up in right field and mustaches are appearing all over the city. It should be a great midsummer classic in the Queen City.