Riverfront Stadium

Last updated
Riverfront Stadium
"The Home of the Big Red Machine"
"The Jungle"
Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.jpg
The Stadium seen from above in 1980
Riverfront Stadium
Former namesRiverfront Stadium (1970–96)
Cinergy Field (1996–2002)
Location201 East Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati 45202
Coordinates 39°5′48″N84°30′30″W / 39.09667°N 84.50833°W / 39.09667; -84.50833 Coordinates: 39°5′48″N84°30′30″W / 39.09667°N 84.50833°W / 39.09667; -84.50833
Owner City of Cincinnati
Capacity 52,952 (baseball, 1970–2000)
59,754 (football)
39,000 (baseball, 2001–02)
Field size1970–2000
Left field – 330 ft (100 m)
Left-center field – 375 ft (114 m)
Center field – 404 ft (123 m)
Right-center field – 375 ft (114 m)
Right field – 330 ft (100 m)
Backstop – 51 ft (16 m)

2001–2002
Left field – 325 ft (99 m)
Left-center field – 370 ft (110 m)
Center field – 393 ft (120 m)
Right-center field – 373 ft (114 m)
Right field – 325 ft (99 m)
Backstop – 41 ft (12 m)
Surface AstroTurf 8 (1970–2000)
Grass (2001–2002)
Construction
Broke groundFebruary 1, 1968
OpenedJune 30, 1970
ClosedSeptember 22, 2002
DemolishedDecember 29, 2002
Construction costUS$45 million
($300 million in 2020 dollars [1] )
Architect Heery & Heery
FABRAP
Structural engineerPrybylowski and Gravino, Inc. [2]
General contractor Huber, Hunt & Nichols [3]
Tenants
Cincinnati Bengals (NFL) (1970–1999)
Cincinnati Reds (MLB) (1970–2002)
Cincinnati Bearcats (NCAA) (1990)

Riverfront Stadium, also known as Cinergy Field from 1996 to 2002, was a multi-purpose stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States that was the home of the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball from 1970 through 2002 and the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League from 1970 to 1999. 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.

Contents

Construction began on February 1, 1968, and was completed at a cost of less than $50 million. Riverfront's grand opening was held on June 30, 1970, an 8-2 Reds loss to the Atlanta Braves. Braves right fielder Hank Aaron hit the first home run in Riverfront's history, a two-run shot in the first inning which also served as the stadium's first runs batted in. [4] Two weeks later on July 14, 1970, Riverfront hosted the 1970 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. This game is best remembered for the often-replayed collision at home plate between Reds star Pete Rose and catcher Ray Fosse of the Cleveland Indians.

In September 1996, Riverfront Stadium was renamed "Cinergy Field" in a sponsorship deal with Greater Cincinnati energy company Cinergy. In 2001, to make room for Great American Ball Park, the seating capacity at Cinergy Field was reduced to 39,000. There was a huge in-play wall in center field visible after the renovations, to serve as the batter's eye. The stadium was demolished by implosion on December 29, 2002.

History

Riverfront was a multi-purpose, circular "cookie-cutter" stadium, one of many 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. Riverfront, Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Shea Stadium in New York and Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C. all opened within a few years of each other and were largely indistinguishable from one another; in particular, it was often confused with fellow Ohio River cookie-cutter Three Rivers Stadium by sportscasters because of the two stadium's similar names and similar designs.

One feature of Riverfront that distinguished it from other cookie-cutters was that the field level seats for baseball were divided in half directly behind home plate, with the third-base side stands wheeled to left field and the ones on the first-base side remaining stationary for conversion to a football seating configuration. [5] The astroturf panels covering the tracks could be seen in left field during Reds games. (Shea Stadium in New York had featured a similar movable field-level seats design from its debut in 1964 until the Jets moved to Giants Stadium in New Jersey in 1984, after which the Mets retrofitted Shea for exclusive baseball use. [6] A variation of this design was also used at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.) [7]

The site Riverfront Stadium sat on originally included the 2nd Street tenement, birthplace and boyhood home of cowboy singer and actor Roy Rogers, who joked that he was born "somewhere between second base and center field."

Riverfront Stadium's scoreboard was designed by American Sign and Indicator, but in its last years was maintained by Trans-Lux. That scoreboard would be upgraded in the 1980s with the addition of an adjacent Sony JumboTron.

Big Red Machine

The Reds moved to Riverfront Stadium midway through the 1970 season, after spending over 86 years at the intersection of Findlay Street and Western Avenue – the last 57½ of those years at Crosley Field. Riverfront quickly earned a place in Cincinnati's century-long baseball tradition as the home of one of the best teams in baseball history. The Reds had only won three pennants in their final 39 years at Crosley Field (1939, 1940, 1961) but made the World Series in Riverfront's 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. The World Series would return in 1990, with Cincinnati winning the first two of a four-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics at Riverfront.

The turf infield and dirt "slide pits" can be seen in this April 1995 photograph. RedsOpeningDay1995.jpg
The turf infield and dirt "slide pits" can be seen in this April 1995 photograph.

Baseball purists disliked Riverfront's artificial turf, but Reds' Manager Sparky Anderson and General Manager Bob Howsam 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 Concepción who used the turf to bounce many of his long throws to first. Catcher Johnny Bench and first baseman Tony Pérez played here. The artificial turf covered not only the normal grass area of the ballpark but also most of the normally dirt-covered portion of the infield. Only the pitcher's mound, the home plate area (in two circled areas), and cutouts around first, second and third bases had dirt surfaces (which were covered in five-sided diamond shaped areas). This was the first stadium in the majors with this "sliding pit" configuration. The new stadiums that would follow (Veterans Stadium, Royals Stadium, Louisiana Superdome, Olympic Stadium (Montreal), Exhibition Stadium, Kingdome, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, B.C. Place, SkyDome) installed sliding pits as the original layout, and the existing artificial turf fields in San Francisco, Houston, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis would change to the cut-out configuration within the next few years.

Riverfront hosted the MLB All-Star Game twice: first on July 14, 1970 with President Richard Nixon in attendance (51,838 total attendance), and again on July 12, 1988 (55,837 attendance).

Professional football

Despite Cincinnati's love of baseball, it was the prospect of a professional football team that finally moved the city to end 20 years of discussion and build a new stadium on the downtown riverfront. After playing for two seasons at Nippert Stadium 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 playoff appearance in 1970, just their third year of existence.

Perhaps the most memorable football game at Riverfront was the AFC 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) and the wind chill was −37 °F (−38 °C), the coldest in NFL history. The win earned the Bengals their first of two trips to the Super Bowl (XVI) while playing at Riverfront.

Riverfront Stadium hosted the 1988 AFC Championship, as the Bengals beat the Buffalo Bills 2110 to advance to their second Super Bowl appearance.

During the Bengals' tenure, they defeated every visiting franchise at least once, enjoying perfect records against the Arizona Cardinals (4-0), New York Giants (4-0), and Philadelphia Eagles (3-0). They posted a 5–1 record in playoff games played in Riverfront Stadium, with victories over the Buffalo Bills (twice), San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, and Houston Oilers. Their only home playoff loss came to the New York Jets.

For most of the Bengals' tenure at the stadium, the field contained only the basic markings required for play. Until the late 1990s, there wasn't a logo at midfield or any writing in the end zone, which had long become standard in NFL stadiums.

During the 1988 season as the Bengals were making another Super Bowl run, Riverfront Stadium was nicknamed the Jungle as the Bengals went a perfect 10-0 at home during the regular season and in the playoffs. With the new stadium nickname, the fans and team adopted the Guns N' Roses song "Welcome to the Jungle" as the unofficial theme song for the Bengals. When Paul Brown Stadium opened in 2000, the Jungle theme was incorporated into the stadium design.

College football

Between 1970 and 1990 Riverfront Stadium hosted 25 University of Cincinnati football games to accommodate higher-caliber visiting teams and local rivals which would overwhelm demand in their usual home, Nippert Stadium (which then could only hold 28,000). Among the Bearcats' opponents were the University of Maryland, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, Boston College, West Virginia University, Penn State University, whose 1985 game took place with the Nittany Lions number one in the coaches' poll, and the University of Miami three times, twice while the Hurricanes were the defending national champions. It would be a temporary full-time home for the Bearcats during the 1990 season, when Nippert Stadium was undergoing renovations.

The Bearcats finished with a 12–13 all-time record at Riverfront.

List of college football games at the stadium
DateHome TeamOpponentScoreAttendance
September 19, 1970 Cincinnati Dayton 13–7--
November 8, 1975 Cincinnati No. 16 Maryland 19–2116,478
September 11, 1982 Cincinnati Louisville 38–1614,324
October 9, 1982 Cincinnati Long Beach State 34–1413,187
November 13, 1982 Cincinnati Morgan State 52–0--
November 18, 1982 Cincinnati Miami (OH) 20–10--
October 1, 1983 Cincinnati Cornell 48–2013,840 [8]
October 8, 1983 Cincinnati Temple 31–16--
October 22, 1983 Cincinnati No. 8 Miami (FL) 7–1714,163
November 5, 1983 Cincinnati Rutgers 18–7--
November 12, 1983 Cincinnati Memphis State 43–10--
October 13, 1984 Cincinnati No. 10 Miami (FL) 25–4925,642
October 27, 1984 Cincinnati Louisville 40–2115,767
November 17, 1984 Cincinnati Alabama 7–2927,482
November 22, 1984 Cincinnati Miami (OH) 26–31--
October 5, 1985 Cincinnati Temple 16–28--
October 26, 1985 Cincinnati Boston College 24–17--
November 9, 1985 Cincinnati No. 2 Penn State 10–3133,528
September 13, 1986 Cincinnati Miami (OH) 45–38--
September 27, 1986 Cincinnati Kentucky 20–37--
October 24, 1987 Cincinnati No. 3 Miami (FL) 10–4820,011
November 5, 1988 Cincinnati No. 4 West Virginia 13–5121,511
September 2, 1990 Cincinnati Bowling Green 20–34--
September 22, 1990 Cincinnati Miami (OH) 12–16--
November 3, 1990 Cincinnati No. 25 Louisville 16–4123,575

[9]

Final years as a baseball-only stadium

Cinergy Field after the left and center field stands were removed. Cinergy Field 3.jpg
Cinergy Field after the left and center field stands were removed.

When the Bengals moved to Paul Brown Stadium in 2000, the Reds were left as Cinergy Field's only tenant. Prior to the 2001 baseball season, the stadium was remodeled into a baseball-only configuration, and the artificial surface was replaced with grass.

Cinergy Field during a Cincinnati Reds game vs. the St. Louis Cardinals on August 23, 2001. Construction of Great American Ballpark is visible in the background. Cinergy Field 1.jpg
Cinergy Field during a Cincinnati Reds game vs. the St. Louis Cardinals on August 23, 2001. Construction of Great American Ballpark is visible in the background.

To allow room for the construction of Great American Ball Park (which was being built largely over the grounds the stadium already sat on), a large section of the left and center field stands were removed and the distance to the fences was shortened by 5 feet (1.5 m). A 40-foot (12 m) wall was built in deep center field to prevent easy home runs. The new Great American Ball Park and old Riverfront Stadium were 26 inches apart at its closest point during this time. In the Reds' final two seasons in the stadium, ongoing construction on Great American was plainly visible just beyond the outfield walls while the team played their games. The stadium's final game was played on September 22, 2002, as the Reds lost 4-3 to the Philadelphia Phillies before a crowd of 40,964. Reds third baseman Aaron Boone hit the final home run in Riverfront's history in the loss, an eighth-inning solo home run off Phillies reliever Dan Plesac. [10]

December 29, 2002 implosion. Cinergy Field Implosion.JPG
December 29, 2002 implosion.
The Riverfront Stadium site in June 2006. This photo was taken from the western concourse of Great American Ball Park. The Reds' Hall of Fame and Museum, Main Street, and the Cincinnati Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium is in the distance. Cinergylot.png
The Riverfront Stadium site in June 2006. This photo was taken from the western concourse of Great American Ball Park. The Reds' Hall of Fame and Museum, Main Street, and the Cincinnati Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium is in the distance.

The stadium was demolished by implosion on December 29, 2002. Today, part of the site is now occupied by Great American Ball Park and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, along with several mixed-use developments and parking facilities. A small portion of the Riverfront Stadium site is now occupied by the Reds' Hall of Fame and Museum and Main Street, which was extended when the new park was built and when the old park was demolished.

Seating capacity

Attendance records

Bold indicates the winner of each game.

Baseball

Highest Baseball attendance at Riverfront Stadium
RankAttendanceDateGame resultNotes
156,393October 16, 1975Reds 6, Red Sox 2 1975 World Series, Game 5
256,079October 12, 1990Reds 2, Pirates 1 1990 NLCS, Game 6
356,040October 22, 1972Athletics 3, Reds 2 1972 World Series, Game 7
455,832October 17, 1990Reds 5, Athletics 4 (10) 1990 World Series, Game 2
555,830October 16, 1990Reds 7, Athletics 0 1990 World Series, Game 1

Football

Highest Football attendance at Riverfront Stadium
RankAttendanceDateGame result
160,284October 17, 1971Bengals 24, Browns 27
260,157December 20, 1970Bengals 45, Patriots 7
360,099October 10, 1970Bengals 13, Dolphins 23
460,084December 9, 1990Bengals 17, 49ers 20
560,067November 4, 1990Bengals 7, Saints 21

Milestones

Baseball

The logo the Reds used in 2002 for their final season at Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field. Bye-bye Riverfront Stadium.png
The logo the Reds used in 2002 for their final season at Riverfront Stadium/Cinergy Field.

Football

Concerts

DateArtistOpening act(s)Tour / Concert nameAttendanceRevenueNotes
August 4, 1976 Jethro Tull Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll Tour
August 16, 1978 The Eagles Eddie Money
The Steve Miller Band
Hotel California Tour51,855
September 14, 1989 The Rolling Stones Living Colour Steel Wheels Tour 53,555 / 53,555$1,522,536
July 10, 1990 New Kids on the Block Perfect Gentlemen The Magic Summer Tour 48,000 / 48,000
May 5, 1993 Paul McCartney The New World Tour 38,000 / 40,000$1,156,513 [13]
August 30, 1994 The Rolling Stones Lenny Kravitz Voodoo Lounge Tour 34,137 / 55,000
May 21, 2000 George Strait Asleep at the Wheel
Lee Ann Womack
Mark Chesnutt
Kenny Chesney
Martina McBride
George Strait Country Music Festival42,000
July 14, 2000 'N Sync Sisqo
P!nk
No Strings Attached Tour 48,234 / 48,234$2,091,097
June 6, 2001 'N Sync Dream Pop Odyssey Tour 36,371 / 42,285$1,947,461

Religious gatherings

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The 1970 Cincinnati Bengals season was the franchise's 1st season in the National Football League, and the 3rd overall. The NFL-AFL merger took place before the season and the Bengals, who were placed in the same division as the "old-guard NFL" Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, were not expected to be playoff contenders. Nevertheless, the Bengals made their first NFL campaign a memorable one. After winning their first ever game as a member of the NFL, their inaugural game in the brand new Riverfront Stadium, they would lose six games in a row. After the 1–6 start, however, the Bengals would win the rest of their games, rallying to an 8–6 finish and champions of the newly formed AFC Central division qualifying for their first playoff appearance in franchise history. In their first playoff game, they lost, 17–0, to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Colts. Cincinnati quarterback Greg Cook was forced to the Injured Reserve list in training camp with a shoulder injury that would ultimately end his career; Virgil Carter took over as the starter. In just their third season, the 1970 Bengals set a league mark by being the first NFL expansion team to qualify for the playoffs within their first three seasons of existence. The team is one of only four teams since the 1970 merger to start the season 1–5 or worse and qualify for the playoffs, the others being the 2015 Kansas City Chiefs, the 2018 Indianapolis Colts, and the 2020 Washington Football Team.

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The 1999 Cincinnati Bengals season was the team's 32nd year in professional football and its 30th with the National Football League. In what would be the final season of pro football being played at Riverfront Stadium, then known as Cinergy Field, the Bengals struggled out of the gates again losing 10 of their first 11 games. After winning two straight, the Bengals faced the expansion Cleveland Browns in the final game at Riverfront Stadium. The Bengals would win the game 44–28 before losing their final two games to finish with a 4–12 record.

References

  1. 1634 to 1699: Harris, P. (1996). "Inflation and Deflation in Early America, 1634–1860: Patterns of Change in the British American Economy". Social Science History . 20 (4): 469–505. JSTOR   1171338. 1700-1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How much is that in real money?: a historical price index for use as a deflator of money values in the economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–" . Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  2. "Cincinnati Riverfront Stadium". Architectural Record. Record and Guide. 147: 54. 1970.
  3. [ citation needed ]
  4. "Atlanta Braves at Cincinnati Reds Box Score, June 30, 1970". Baseball-Reference.com . Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  5. http://www.ballparksofbaseball.com/past/RiverfrontStadium.htm
  6. http://mlb.mlb.com/nym/ballpark/history.jsp
  7. http://www.steelersfever.com/three_rivers_stadium.html
  8. Flynn, Terry (October 2, 1983). "UC Lets Cornell Off with 48-20 Beating". The Cincinnati Enquirer . Cincinnati, Ohio. p. B-1 via Newspapers.com.
  9. "2009 University of Cincinnati Football Media Guide" (PDF). gobearcats.com. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  10. "Philadelphia Phillies at Cincinnati Reds Box Score, September 22, 2002". Baseball-Reference.com . Retrieved May 19, 2021.
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  12. "Expect Good Game". Bryan Times. January 9, 1982.
  13. Paul McCartney Setlist Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA on 5 May 1993

Sources

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Nippert Stadium
Home of the
Cincinnati Bengals

19701999
Succeeded by
Paul Brown Stadium
Preceded by
Crosley Field
Home of the
Cincinnati Reds

19702002
Succeeded by
Great American Ball Park
Preceded by
RFK Stadium
Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum
Host of the All-Star Game
1970
1988
Succeeded by
Tiger Stadium
Anaheim Stadium
Preceded by
Jack Murphy Stadium
Mile High Stadium
Host of AFC Championship Game
1982
1989
Succeeded by
Miami Orange Bowl
Mile High Stadium