If you haven't been to Downtown Cincinnati lately, chances are you haven't witnessed the resurgence taking place along the waterfront. Cincinnati is known as a river town, and more importantly, a baseball town. The Cincinnati Reds traces its origins as the very first professional franchise in the Major Leagues and the city shows that off with with great pride. The old Riverfront Stadium was demolished back in 2002 to make way for what is now Great American Ballpark. Directly where the old stadium once stood, an entertainment, recreational and living complex known as The Banks has been strategically planned for maximum urban fun.
My favorite ritual before any Reds game now is visiting the new Christian Moerlein Lager House, a local craft brewery and restaurant that has redefined the traditional "Biergarten". Try all their various bavarian brews on tap, and be sure to taste my favorite one, OTR, named after the historic Over-The-Rhine neighborhood where the original brewery was first founded in the late 1800s. Their extensive menu goes along with this same theme, offering updated twists on traditional German fare. Today the new Lager House looks onto a finely manicured Schmidlapp Event Lawn, where free family-friendly concerts take place throughout the year.
You will be in baseball heaven upon entering the lobby, since it was built where the old Riverfront Stadium once stood. Directly in front of the hostess stand, lies a commemorative first base where Pete Rose aka "The Hit King" stood after achieving his 4,192th hit, waving to the cheering crowd for nine minutes. Pretty incredible to realize that history happened in that very spot!
Besides the Moerlein house, you will find many popular spots to enjoy before or after the game like the bustling sports bar, Holy Grail, upscale dining like Crave or you can get your country music fix with Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill. Check The Banks' official website for all the great options and the many new entertainment venues that are slated to open throughout this coming year, including the Wine Guy Bistro and Ruth's Cris Steakhouse.
After having my fill of appetizers and beer, I can feel the buzz and excitement as the moving crowd of Reds fans advance towards the entrance of Great American Ballpark. Notice the tribute statues of great players long ago scattered along the raised lawn or grab a souvenir at the soaring multi-level official Reds Team shop. Once inside, a bad seat is nowhere to be found. Again taking on that theme of the river, the stadium opens up in the outfield to get a view of the Ohio and the shores of Kentucky and beyond. Every detail was meticulously planned to give the fans a very up-close-and-personal experience, showcasing what this city is all about. A truly spectacular ballpark and a great American tradition I am always thankful to partake in. Play Ball!
Advanced tickets and group sales can be purchased through the Reds box office, visit the official website for more information.