Clem's Baseball home

Riverfront Stadium*
Former home of the
Cincinnati Reds
(1970-2002)




Riverfront Stadium
Key

DYNAMIC DIAGRAM:
Mouse rollover.



* known as "Cinergy Field" (late 1996-2002)

Lifetime Seating capacity Seating rows
(typical)
Overhang / shade % Territory
(1,000 sq. ft.)
Fence height  CF
orien- tation
Back-stop Outfield dimensions The Clem Criteria:
Built Demo- lished Lower deck Mezz. Upper deck Lower deck Upper deck Fair Foul LF CF RF Left
field
Left-center Center field Right-center Right field Field
asym- metry
Arch.
design
Seat
prox- imity
Loc- ation Aesth- etics Over- all
1970 2003 52,952 30-46 5 28 10% 65% 109.6 22.5 8 8 8 E 51 330 375 404 375 330 1 4 5 7 3 4.0

ALL STAR GAMES: 1970, 1988 ARTIFICIAL TURF: 1970 - 2000

WORLD SERIES: 1970, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1990.

BEEN THERE: October 2000, August 17, 2002 (drive-by, both times)

Along with Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, this was probably one of the blandest of all the boring "doughnut" stadiums of the 1960s and 1970s. The shape of the playing field was almost identical to Busch Stadium in St. Louis, but with shorter distance to the backstop behind home plate, and less foul territory. The field was artificial turf, and the outfield dimensions were perfectly symmetrical with no distinguishing features whatsoever. However, the baseball-to-football reconfiguration was done somewhat differently than elsewhere: the left side of the lower deck was swiveled approximately 75 degrees into left field, while the right side stayed put. Thus, in similar fashion to RFK Stadium, the football gridiron lay at about a 15 degree angle from the right foul line, rather than straight from home plate to center field. The front row of seats was about five feet above the ground, ideally suited for football but not for baseball; that's why the "dugouts" were at ground level. The upper deck was larger than other stadiums in this class, and featured a wide lateral aisle to facilitate fan entry and exit. For this reason, it was not necessary to gouge out gaps in the seating rows to accommodate the entry portals as is typically done in upper decks; fans entered the lateral aisle through an eight-foot vertical wall between the stairways to the upper portion of the upper deck. Another unique structural feature is that the stadium is built on top of the parking garage.

The only big positive aspect to Riverfront Stadium was its scenic location on the banks of the Ohio River. You couldn't see that view from the inside, however, and a freeway separated it from downtown Cincinnati, so fans had to cross a pedestrian walkway. To prevent floodwaters from ruining everything -- as happened twice at old Crosley Field, the Reds' former home -- a huge retractable flood wall was built.

thumbnail Seldom has a new stadium had such a dramatic apparent effect on the home team's fortunes. Almost as soon as they moved from Crosley Field to Riverfront Stadium in June 1970, the Reds emerged from decades of frustration and became known as the "Big Red Machine," winning World Series titles in 1975 and 1976. Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose were the big stars from that era. In 1990 another generation of Reds won the top prize, just as Pete was banished from baseball for life because of overwhelming evidence that he had gambled on major league games...

Riverfront Stadium had its origins in the shady wheeling and dealing among city governments and sports promoters in the 1960s. The Reds knew they needed public funds to build a new stadium, but the only way to recoup the investment was to create a new pro football franchise so that the stadium would generate revenues through the autumn months. The promise of a big new stadium facilitated the creation of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968, who played here from 1970 until 1999, after which they moved into their new home, Paul Brown Stadium, just to the west.

Even as plans were underway to replace it, in the latter months of 1996 the name of the stadium was changed to Cinergy Field, after the Cincinnati-area utility company. To make way for construction of the Reds' new home -- the "Great American Ball Park" -- demolition crews began tearing down the outfield portion of Cinergy Field in October 2000. (I caught a glimpse of a crane at the site as I drove by that same month.) The construction site was literally just beyond the outfield fence, and only a few feet separated the new stadium from the truncated portion of the old one. For the last two years of its existence, the outfield dimensions of Cinergy Field were reduced considerably: 325 feet to each foul pole and only 393 feet to center field, where a 40-foot high fence prevented too many easy home runs. Under this squeezed-in configuration, there was a distinct bend in the center field fence, rather than a broad circular arc as before. Also, real grass was planted, and the bullpens were moved from foul territory to behind the right field fence, but with fake turf. Riverfront Stadium was demolished in late December 2002.

SOURCES: Lowry (2006), USA Today / Fodor's (1996), Bess (1999)

WEB LINK: www.ebaseballparks.com


camera PHOTO #2 (B&W, Aug. 17, 2002) ~ camera PHOTO #3 (2009, color)
Panoramas from the Kentucky side of the Ohio River, taken from the same location, seven years apart. they shows, from left to right, Paul Brown Stadium, the truncated portion of the former Riverfront Stadium (2002 only), and only a few feet away, Great American Ball Park, then under construction. Because of the angle of the afternoon sunlight, the three original color photos had sharply varying hues, so I converted the panorama to black and white, which yields much sharper definition.

Click on the camera icon (camera) links to see the photos, one by one.

camera PHOTO #1 Approaching "Cinergy Field" from the west side. (August 17, 2002, a 100-degree day.)

Cinergy Field
 
 

Riverfront Stadium:
Chronology of diagram updates


 



NOTE: The diagram thumbnails have been continually replaced since 2008, so the images seen in the older blog posts do not reflect how the full-size diagrams looked at that time. Roll your mouse over the adjacent thumbnail to see a pre-2008 version.

Riverfront Stadium
 
17 Sep 2005 01 Jan 2008 09 Sep 2009 07 Jul 2012 08 Apr 2013

Vox populi: Fans' impressions

Have you been to this stadium? If so, feel free to share your impressions of it with other fans! (Registration is required.) Also, I welcome submissions of original stadium photos that fans have taken, and will make sure they get properly credited. Just send me an e-mail message via the Contact page.


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