Ex-Prez Bush opens Reds new ballpark

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 30, 2003

CINCINNATI - It's not only time to play a new season, it's time to play in a new home.

The Cincinnati Reds will open their 2003 season in the new Great American Ballpark at 4 p.m. Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Country singer Lee Greenwood, most famous for his song "God Bless the U.S.A." and former President George W. Bush are expected to be on hand for the opener. Bush will fill in for his son and throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Email newsletter signup

President George H. Bush was invited before the invasion of Iraq, but the White House delayed making a commitment.

Pregame ceremonies begin at 3:15 p.m.

"We built the ballpark for the fans. It's a great facility and it's going to be a very special day," Reds chief operation officer John Allen said.

The Reds played two exhibition games Friday and Saturday against the Cleveland Indians.

"It was good to break in the new park. It gave the players and the fans a chance to learn their way around. They got a chance to figure out the right elevators and escalators. But it was a lot of fun figuring things out," Allen said.

Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was impressed with the new facility. The team got its first glimpse of the new park when the team plane flew over the stadium Thursday night.

"Incredible,'' Larkin said. "The bird's-eye view we had (Thursday) night on the plane - an absolute Field of Dreams. The ballpark was lit up. It sits up kind of by itself, right on the river. Pretty sweet."

After games Monday, Wednesday and Thursday against the Pirates, the Reds host the Chicago Cubs for a three-game weekend series. They play at Houston for three games and return the following weekend to play Philadelphia.

Although the stadium seating capacity is 40,888, a standing room only crowd is expected for the opener.