Great American Ball Park (Reds games specifically)
I catch a lot of crap about being a Reds fan since I also love the Yankees (who am I kidding, people don’t have many things better to do than to give other people crap, especially on the internet). I’ll try to be brief, but let me explain: I’ve been a Reds fan my entire life. Hell, I grew up proudly Cincinnati; not to mention a total tomboy with sports on the mind. My dad and paternal grandfather grew up proudly elsewhere, and the Yankee fandom has been passed down the familial ranks since the fifties. For those keeping track, that’s before I was born. I was born into Yankee fandom. I shook Donnie Baseball’s hand in Cleveland when I was 7. He thought I was a boy (thanks for the bowl cut, Mom), but hey, it was awesome and pretty much everyone thought I was a boy in the early nineties anyway. Don Mattingly: HE’S JUST LIKE US!
Fast forward to adulthood, and I’m still a fanatic of both teams. I’m also no longer mistaken for a boy. The 2004 ALCS still stings more than you know, and I’ve yet to see more than one World Championship from the Yankees in my adult life (that’s post-2003 for those keeping track). Remember how shitty they were in the late-80s and early- to mid-90s? Yeah, keep calling me bandwagon. I love it.
Don’t get it twisted. I’ve shared in the joys and sorrows of Reds fandom, too, and there have been a lot of both, especially as of late. I love both teams wholeheartedly and, hey, it helps that they play in entirely different leagues. My life won’t be complete until they meet in the World Series. It’ll happen.
Back to GABP and the Reds. I love being able to spend game times with a team I love. Sometimes this requires carving out an entire day of festivities. Other times it means driving down to the ballpark just for the game and coming home immediately following. Either way, it’s a pastime I love. Hey, if I didn’t, that would make me a terrorist, right?
Location: We all know parking is not convenient for these events, and it can cost a pretty penny. However, the view from GABP is pretty outstanding. It is a real treat to have a ball stadium at our disposal where, sitting in most seats in the park, you can see the Ohio River and rolling Northern Kentucky hills off in the distance (you can also see the rolling panoramas of Mt. Adams and Walnut Hills, which are pretty great, too). Trust me when I say Northern Kentucky is best viewed from Ohio, and GABP provides a really nice version of that. Additionally, there are a ton of restaurants and bars in the surrounding area(s) (see: The Banks, Newport on the Levee, Downtown Cincinnati, OTR, Mt. Adams, and a number of other areas that are a short cab ride away) that are very easy to get to before and after games should you choose to make a day/night out of it.
Atmosphere: There aren’t many things like camaraderie, people overflowing with baseball knowledge (personable people at that!), and everyone enjoying a good (or bad) game. Drinks are typically flowing, but not always unreasonably like at Bengals games (those people go hammertime). Also, the fireworks shows are unparalleled (except for maybe the WEBN Fireworks). For someone who prides herself on socializing and being a fan of sports generally, spending the day enjoying a game at Great American Ball Park is the perfect combination of D) All of the above. And the seats themselves aren’t too shabby either. Even when my Power Pack seats were located in the ‘bleeds, I thought they had a pretty outstanding view of the field. The same goes for pretty much any other seat in the house as well. One of my favorite things about GABP is gratuitous high fives with friends and strangers alike. This is that camaraderie thing I was talking about before.
Et Cetera: Service (from the ushers to servers in various restaurants and bars) has always been outstanding. The Reds really do employ some wonderful, friendly people, and that’s awesome. The place is pretty big, but not overwhelming, corporate, and industrial (see: New Yankee Stadium, as much as it pains me to say). The HD scoreboard displays are a treat, and a welcome upgrade from the crap versions in Paul Brown Stadium. The food is also very good as far as ballpark food is concerned, and Mo Egger isn’t lying every time he brings up Funnel Fries. They’re the slam. I’ve yet to make it to the Reds Hall of Fame, but that’s happening soon and will be reviewed as necessary. I hear it’s amazing.
Some gripes: they serve Skyline and not Gold Star, and the cell phone service for non-Cincinnati Bell devices is atrocious. If those are my only complaints, then GABP is doing something right in my book.
Overall Grade: A- [out of a possible A+]
Great American Ball Park helps me feel like a kid again, no matter how many times I’ve been there. Sports make me happy, and sharing the experience with tens of thousands of other like-minded fans makes it that much sweeter. Spending each game at GABP may not always live up to one of the greatest nights in my life (hint: there was LOTS of woo-ing and I was standing under the Tall Stacks), but it’s about the next closest thing. I take a lot of pride in this Cincinnati institution, as well as all Cincinnatians should.