Riverfront Stadium opened to the fans on June 30, 1970. Located along
the Ohio River in Cincinnati, the ball park was the new home of the
Cincinnati Reds Major League Baseball Club and the Cincinnati Bengals
NFL football team. It held 52,
952 fans for baseball games and 59,754 for football. The original cost
of construction was $45 Million.
Riverfront Stadium was yet another in a line of "Multi-purpose" parks
that would be used for both baseball and football. The idea was to
save the expense of building two stadiums. Busch Stadium in St. Louis,
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh,
Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego and Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia
all opened around the same time and were "cookie cutter" copies of
Most baseball people did not care for the multi-purpose design and the
Artifcial Astro Turf of Riverfront Stadium. 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. This was the first stadium
in the majors with this "sliding pit" configuration.
The "Big Red Machine" played it's first game at Riverfront on
June 30, 1970. Henry Aaron's home run would be the first at the new
Two weeks after it opened, Riverfront Stadium was host to the 1970
Major League Baseball All Star Game. With the score tied in the bottom
of the 12th, Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds, stood at second base.
When the Chicago Cubs' Jim Hickman singled up the middle, Rose raced
around third and slammed into Cleveland Indians' catcher Ray Fosse for
the winning run.
Rose and the Cincinnati Reds would become famous for this style of
play as the Big Red Machine dominated the National League in the
In it's maiden season, the Reds brought the 1970 World Series to
Riverfront Stadium against the favored Baltimore Orioles. This World
Series featured several "firsts". Emmett Ashford became the first
African American to umpire in the Fall Classic. It also was first
World Series games to be played on artificial turf. The Orioles won
the Series 4 games to 1.
The Reds returned to the World Series in 1972 against the Oakland
Athletics. Gene Tenace's MVP performance led the A's to victory in
a thrilling seven games.
In 1975, the Reds and the Boston Red Sox would lock horns in the World
Series. In game six, Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk ended what many
consider to be the best World Series game of all time with a dramatic,
extra inning home run off of the Reds Pat Darcy. After the game, Pete Rose said it was the best game he ever played in. The Reds won game
seven and the World Series thanks to an MVP performance from Pete
For the fourth time in seven years, Riverfront Stadium hosted the World
Series again in 1976. The Reds swept the Pittsburgh Pirates for
the National League Title and then whipped the New York Yankees
four straight for the World Championship.
With a new cast of characters, the World Series again returned to
Riverfront Stadium in 1990, again against the powerful Oakland A's.
The Reds swept the series in four straight games. Pitcher José Rijo
led the way, winning the Series MVP.
Cincinnati Reds manager Sparky Anderson took full advantage of the
artificial turf at Riverfront. Players like Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and
Ken Griffey combined power and speed and were perfectly suited for the
new ball park.
Short stop Dave Concepción would skip long throws off the turf to
first base. The dimensions were great for Reds' sluggers Johnny
Bench and George Foster.
In 2000, the Cincinnati Bengals moved into Paul Brown Stadium,
which left Riverfront to baseball only. Now re-named Cinergy Field
Prior to the 2001 season, the stadium's artificial turf was replaced
with grass. To allow room for the Reds' new ballpark, Great American
Ball Park, a large section of the left and center field stands were
removed and the distances to the fences were shortened by five feet.
In the Reds' final seasons in the stadium, ongoing construction on
Great American was plainly visible just beyond the outfield walls
while the Reds played their games.
The Cincinnati Reds played their last game at Riverfront Stadium on
September 22, 2002. On December 29, 2002, the stadium that had been
home to the Big Red Machine came crashing down and became a Stadium
Two Major League All Star Games were held here. 1970 and 1988.
Five World Series. 1970, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1990.
On April 4, 1974, Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth's all time home run record
of 714 with a long ball against Reds' pitcher Jack Billingham.
On June 16, 1978, Reds' pitcher Tom Seaver threw a no hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Pete Rose became the all time Major League hits leader on September 11, 1985. Number 4,192 to pass Ty Cobb.
Riverfront was the first all artificially turfed baseball field. It was also the first to display metric distances on the outfield wall.
Riverfront Stadium Dimensions:
The original dimensions were symmetrical. the left and right field foul lines reached the wall at 330 feet. The power alleys were both at 375 and center field was set at 404 feet. The backstop was 51 feet behind home plate.
In 2001, the distances were altered. Left and right field were shortened to 325 feet, the power alleys became 370 and center field ended up at 393. The backstop was moved to 41 feet.