Great American Ballpark is a baseball field located in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the home field of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. Great American was opened for the 2003 season and hosted its first regular season game on March 31 of that year, the Reds’ season opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Reds and the Cleveland Indians had played an exhibition game in the new field on March 28, 2003.
The two major architectural features of the ballpark that make it different from other fields are “the gap,” a space in the upper levels of the grandstands along the third-base line, and the “Power Stacks” in right-center field, made to look like the smoke stacks of steamboats. The gap in the third-base side stands is meant to give spectators a view of downtown Cincinnati, since the outfield opens onto vistas of the state of Kentucky across the Ohio River. It is also hypothesized to aid airflow toward the outfield, which may help fly balls reach the seats.
The Power Stacks, meant to evoke riverboat life on the adjacent Ohio River, emit smoke when a Reds pitcher records a strikeout and shoot off fireworks for a Reds home run. They also have flashing lights built into them. They are intended to support and encourage the cheering of the fans.
Dimensions of the field are 328 feet to the left field line, 379 feet to left center, 404 feet to center field, 370 feet to right center, and 325 feet to the right field line from home plate. It is 55 feet from home plate to the backstop. The park seats 42,059.
Great American Ballpark is owned by Hamilton County, the county that includes Cincinnati. Financing of the approximately $320 million needed to build the park was 18% by the Cincinnati Reds, and 82% by the County, which sought to raise funds by passing a 0.5% sales tax in 1997. With the recent economic downturn, there has been some controversy as tax collections are behind and the county could have trouble meeting its obligations for stadium financing.
Naming rights for the park were purchased by Great American insurance company, owned by former Reds owner Carl Lindner, at a rate of $75 million over 30 years. The street address of the park was designated as 100 Main St., but the address was changed to 100 Nuxhall Way to honor longtime Reds player and broadcaster Joe Nuxhall, also a native of the area and one of the most popular figures ever in Cincinnati. Nuxhall died in 2007.
Another feature not actually in the park itself, is the adjacent Reds Hall of Fame, housing plaques to those elected to the Hall as well as years worth of Reds memorabilia. Admission to the Hall of Fame is free to fans who display their game ticket on the day of the game. The Hall is well-regarded as an excellent example of a team Hall of Fame.