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Riverfront Stadium

By Wikipedia

Cinergy Field formerly known as Riverfront Stadium (1970 - 2002) was the home of the Cincinnati Reds Major League Baseball team and the Cincinnati Bengals National Football League team.

At a glance...
Facility statistics
Location Cincinnati, Ohio
Broke ground June 30, 1970
Opened April 19, 1966
Closed September 22, 2002
Demolished December 29, 2002
Replaced Crosley Field
Owner City of Cincinnati
Surface AstroTurf (1970-2000)
Grass (2001-2002)
Construction cost $45 million
Architect Heery & Heery and FABRAP
Replaced By
Great American Ball Park (Reds, 2003)
Paul Brown Stadium (Bengals, 2001)
Reds (MLB, June 1970-2002)
Bengals (NFL, 1970-2000)
Seating capacity
52,952 (Baseball, 1970-2000)
59,754 (Football)
40,008 (Baseball only, 2001-2002)
Left Field - 330 ft
Left-Center - 387 ft
Center Field - 400 ft
Right-Center - 370 ft
Right Field - 330 ft
Backstop - 60.5 ft

Located on the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, the stadium was best known as the home of "The Big Red Machine," as the Reds were often called in the 1970s. Construction began on February 1, 1968 and was completed at a cost of less than $50 million. On July 14, Riverfront hosted the 1970 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

In 1996, the stadium was renamed "Cinergy Field" in a sponsorship deal with greater Cincinnati's power company, Cinergy Corporation. It was demolished by implosion in December 2002.

"Cookie Cutters"

Riverfront was one of a number of multi-purpose, circular stadiums built in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s as communities sought to save money by having their football and baseball teams share the same facility. Such stadiums were derisively called "cookie cutter" stadiums. Riverfront, Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, and Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia all opened within a few years and were largely indistinguishable from one another.

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The site on which the stadium sat originally contained the birthplace and boyhood home of cowboy singer and actor Roy Rogers.

Big Red Machine

Riverfront Stadium quickly earned a place among its peers and in Cincinnati's century-long baseball tradition as the home of one of the best teams in baseball history. The World Series had visited the Reds' previous home, Crosley Field, just once in its final thirty years, but it came to Riverfront in its first year (1970) and a total of four times in the stadium's first seven years, with the Reds winning back-to-back championships in 1975 and 1976.

Baseball purists disliked Riverfront's artificial turf, but Reds' Manager Sparky Anderson took advantage of it by encouraging speed and line drive hitting that could produce doubles, triples and high-bouncing infield hits. Players who combined power and speed like Joe Morgan, Pete Rose and Ken Griffey, Sr. thrived there. On defense, the fast surface and virtually dirtless infield (see photo) rewarded range and quickness by both outfielders and infielders, like shortstop Dave Concepcion who used the turf to bounce many of his long throws to first. Catcher Johnny Bench and outfielder Tony Perez also played here. The artificial turf covered not only the normal grass area of the ballpark but also what is usually the "skinned" portion of the infield. Only the pitcher's mound, the home plate area, and cutouts around first, second and third bases had dirt surfaces.

Riverfront Stadium!

Riverfront (when it was still called that) from the seats on the first base side in 1992.

Photo by Rick Dikeman

06/30/1970 Braves 8, Reds 2
Umpires Paul Pryor, Dick Stello
  Al Barlick, Ed Vargo
Managers Sparky Anderson, Reds
  Lum Harris, Braves
Starting Pitchers Jim McGlothlin, Reds
  Pat Jarvis, Braves
Ceremonial Pitch Former NL President Warren Giles
Attendance 51,050
Batter Sonny Jackson (strikeout)
Hit Felix Millan (single)
Run Felix Millan
RBI Hank Aaron
Single Felix Millan
Double Orlando Cepeda
Triple Pete Rose (07/01/1970)
Home Run Hank Aaron
Grand Slam Tony Perez (08/11/1970)
IPHR Roberto Clemente (05/19/1971)
Stolen Base Bobby Tolan, Tony Perez
Sacrifice Hit Pat Jarvis
Sacrifice Fly Pete Rose (07/01/1970)
Cycle Mike Easler (06/12/1980)
Win Pat Jarvis
Loss Jim McGlothlin
Shutout Gary Nolan (07/03/1970)
Save Jack DiLauro (07/03/1970)
Hit by Pitch George Stone hit
Bobby Tolan (07/02/1970)
Wild Pitch Ron Reed (07/01/1970)
Balk Ron Herbel (07/07/1970)
No-Hitter Ken Holtzman (06/03/1971)
Perfect Game Tom Browning (09/16/1988)
Primary research by Jim Herdman & David Vincent
Courtesy of Retrosheet

Riverfront hosted the MLB All-Star Game in 1970 (then-President Richard Nixon was in attendance) and 1988. It was also the site of the first two games of the 1990 World Series, both won by the Reds on the way to a four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics.


Despite Cincinnati's love of baseball, however, it was the prospect of a professional football team that finally moved the city to end twenty years of discussion and build a new stadium on the downtown riverfront. After playing for two seasons on the University of Cincinnati campus, the Bengals built on the Reds' success in the stadium's first year when they recorded their first winning season and first playoff appearance in 1970, just their third year of existence.

The most memorable football game at Riverfront was probably the American Football Conference Championship on January 10, 1982. The game became known as the "Freezer Bowl" and was won by the Bengals over the San Diego Chargers, 27-7. The air temperature during the game was -9 °F (-23 °C);, but the wind chill was -59 °F (-51 °C), the coldest in NFL history. The win earned the Bengals their first of two trips to the Super Bowl while playing at Riverfront.


When the Bengals moved to Paul Brown Stadium in 2000, the Reds were left as Riverfront's only tenant. Prior to the 2001 baseball season, the stadium was remodeled into a baseball-only configuration. A large slice of the left and centerfield stands was removed, and the distance to the fences was shortened by five feet to allow room for the construction of Great American Ball Park, while the artificial surface was replaced with grass. Thus, during its last couple of seasons, the stadium achieved an openness and a degree of aesthetic appeal that it had lacked for most of its existence.

Baseball Milestones

  • First stadium to have its entire field covered by AstroTurf, except for the cutouts around the bases and pitcher’s mound.
  • First Presidential Visit: Richard Nixon, July 14, 1970 (All-Star Game).
  • First upper deck home run: Tony Perez, August 11, 1970.
  • First World Series game ever played on artificial turf: October 10, 1970.
  • First Pitcher ever to pitch a no-hitter and hit two hruns in the same game: Rick Wise, June 23, 1971.
  • Hank Aaron ties the all-time home run record with number 714: April 4, 1974.
  • First stadium to display Metric distances on the outfield walls (100.58 meters down the lines, 114.30 to the alleys, 123.13 to center): 1976.
  • Highest season attendance, 2,629,708: 1976.
  • First rain checks issued: August 30, 1978.
  • Pete Rose was believed to have broken the all-time Hit record with number 4192: September 11, 1985. (Rose actually broken the record a few days earlier in Wrigley Field; Ty Cobb's number of hits had been overestimated.)
  • First player ever to be caught stealing four times in one game: Robby Thompson, June 27, 1986.
  • Longest Home run, 473': Mark McGwire, May 5, 2000.

Football Milestones

  • First Touchdown: Sam Wyche, September 20, 1970
  • First Field goal: Horst Muhlmann, September 20, 1970
  • Corey Dillon breaks the single-game rookie rushing record with 246 yards: December 4, 1997.

Related books on Riverfront Stadium:
Riverfront Stadium: Home of the Big Red Machine by Mike Shannon.

Related Books on Ballparks
The Ballpark Book: A Journey Through the Fields of Baseball Magic by Ron Smith and Kevin Belford.
Ballpark: The Story of America's Baseball Fields by Lynn Curlee
Ballparks: A Panoramic History by Marc Sandalow and Jim Sutton.
Ballparks by Robert Von Goeben and Red Howard.
Ballparks: Then & Now by Eric Enders.
Baseball Vacations: Great Family Trips to Minor League and Classic Major League Ballbarks Across America by Bruce Adams and Margaret Engel.
Blue Skies, Green Fields: A Celebration of 50 Major League Baseball Stadiums by Ira Rosen.
Diamonds: The Evolution of the Ballpark by Michael Gershman.
Fields of Dreams: A Guide to Visiting and Enjoying All 30 Major League Ballparks by Jay Ahuja
Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of All Major League and Negro League Ballparks by Philip J. Lowry.
Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide by Joe Mock.
Lost Ballparks: A Celebration of Baseball's Legendary Fields by Lawrence S. Ritter.
Roadside Baseball: A Guide to Baseball Shrines Across America by Chris Epting.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal and Jessica Macmurray.
The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums by Joshua Pahigian and Kevin O'Connell.
Video: Story of America's Classic Ballparks
Video: Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Economics of Stadiums
City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks by Philip Bess.
Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit by Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause.
Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums by Kevin J. Delaney and Rick Eckstein.
Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums by Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist.

General Stadium Reference:
Sports Staff of USA Today. The Complete 4 Sport Stadium Guide. Fodor's, 1996.

Stadium Design and Financing References:
Philip Bess. City Baseball Magic: Plain Talk and Uncommon Sense about Cities and Baseball Parks. Knothole Press, 1999.
Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause. Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit. Common Courage Press, 1998.
Mark S. Rosentraub. Major League Losers: The Real Cost of Sports and Who's Paying for It. HarperCollins, 1997.
Kevin J. Delaney, Rick Eckstein. Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums. Rutgers University Press, 2004.
Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist. Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums. Brookings Institution, 1997.
Dean V. Baim. The Sports Stadium as a Municipal Investment. Greenwood Publishing, 1994.
Stadia: A Design and Development Guide by Geraint John and Rod Sheard. Architectural Press, 2000.
Michelle Provoost, Matthjis Bouw and Camiel Van Winkel. The Stadium: Architecture of Mass Sport. NAI Publishers, 2000.

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Riverfront as seen from space!

USGS Photo

Year by Year statistics: for Riverfront Stadium

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