Great American Ball Park has a few bugs to work out

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 22, 2003

CINCINNATI - The Great American Ball Park might be more accurate if it was named The Pretty Good American Ball Park.

Of course, the Cincinnati Reds new baseball stadium was named for Great American Insurance. It's the same business that Reds principal owner Carl Lindner serves as CEO. But as good as the new stadium may seem, there are a couple of glitches.

The first item is a small one, but noticeable to those of us who remember the Big Red Machine.

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There are several retired jerseys, most of which belonged to members of the Golden Era of Reds baseball. Riverfront Stadium (a.k.a. Cinergy Field) had large circular plaques hanging in the outfield with a painted jersey along with the name and number of the player.

This great new stadium has some numbers across a wall under the press box that gives fans the idea the Reds are posting the Super Lotto winning numbers. Fans who are not as deep-rooted in Reds tradition have no idea who - or what- the numbers represent.

Secondly, there are two big scoreboards in the stadium. One is along the left field wall and updates all the games across the major leagues, plus shows the speed of each pitch.

The giant scoreboard complete with JumboTron hangs high above the crowd, also in left field.

Both scoreboards are great for the fans, except those sitting in left field. Heck, even the fans sitting in the cheapest $9 cloud seats can see the scoreboards.

If the fans in the bleacher seats turn around and lean back too far to catch a glimpse of the JumboTron, they'll soon see the scoreboard along the left field wall because they'll fall out of their seats and onto an unsuspecting Adam Dunn.

And finally, the concessions. For the most part, you can stand in the concession lines and still see the game. But eating at the ball park might require fans to take out a second mortgage on their home.

A hot dog is $3 while a kosher hot dog or bratwurst is $5.75. French fries (or Freedom Fries for all loyalists) and peanuts are $3.75. Popcorn is $3.50, as are snow cones and ice cream. Soda pop is $3.25 for 20 ounces.

A cheeseburger is $7, but a coney dog is "just" $2.50. Add another $2.50 and you can have a chocolate chunk cookie.

Now, these aren't large servings. They don't even come in a large packing container like in movie theaters.

I'm a teetotaler, but for those who like the spirits, a 16-ounce longneck bottle is $5.75. But then, so is a glass of lemonade.

But don't worry. You can find a McDonald's, Burger King or Big Boy at several locations on the outskirts of town.

Although seats at the field level are now $30, that's a far cry from the Diamond seats situated right behind home plate. The Reds are letting those babies go for a bargain $250 per seat.

However, you can buy them on an individual game basis and not just as a season pass. That sure helps me out a lot. Now I can take my family of seven to a weekend series for just $5,250, or about the equivalent of one Barry Larkin at-bat.

I'm not criticizing the Reds or the ball park's design for the Diamond Club where fans can eat in a restaurant setting and watch the game on closed circuit television. All the new ball parks seem to have this feature.

What I don't understand is why someone would play $250 to watch a game, then go inside and eat in a restaurant - the menu is more lavish as well as more expensive - and watch the game on TV.

I can stay home and watch the game on TV for less money. Like free. And if I want to eat at a restaurant and watch the game on TV, I can go to Damon's or Giovanni's Pizza.

Don't get me wrong. The new ball park is nice. It's design and features are more conducive to a baseball fan than the old air filter the Reds used to call home. I'd just like to see the scoreboard.

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.