Sunday, March 30, 2003

Daugherty: What's so Great about new park?


Reds' home is nice, but not jaw-dropping

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Calling it Great American Ball Park is either presumptuous or self-promoting, depending on how you look at it. Maybe it's both.

The Reds' new home is attractive and functional. It's the ballpark equivalent of a pinstriped suit. Great American doesn't attract attention to itself, and in that sense it's a lot like the city.

It's nice. Maybe that's what $300 million gets you in a ballpark these days. Not fabulous. Not sexy like Camden Yards or Pac Bell, not overwhelming like The Ballpark at Arlington. Not a postcard for downtown like PNC Park in Pittsburgh or, to a smaller degree, Jacobs Field. Not a dump like new Comiskey. Just nice.

The Wow Factor is limited. Great American Ball Park works, it's comfortable, it has lots of bathrooms and generous food menus. Especially if you like hot dogs. It has a great view of Kentucky.

Maybe we could rename it Pretty Good American Ball Park.

(While we're at it: Does anyone else think the "Ball'' in the name makes it sound ponderous? Couldn't they have just called it Great American Park? It's fairly obvious what they do in there.)

'Full Gush mode'

This is not a view widely held around here at the moment. Everyone is in Full Gush mode. Well, almost everyone. Six local architects savaged it in the paper Friday. They made Pretty Good Park sound like a strip mall.

"The building lacks a singular spirit," offered one.

"It's this big building that's not a landmark," sniffed another.

We were building the Louvre. Who knew?

The design scholars missed the essential point: Not many people go to the game because the ballpark has "continuity." Few will leave the new place saying, "I'm never coming back because the building is void of the romance that typically occurs in ballpark designs between the steel frame and the surrounding elements."

They just like the bathrooms.

Visiting the men's room isn't like wading in the Mill Creek anymore.

The good stuff

And the food. The Machine Room is a sports bar with an actual view of sports, not just several hundred televisions. You can get a hot dog every way but alive.

As promised, the seats are close. The $10 bleachers in left are near enough you can heckle Barry Bonds without raising your voice. Unlike the residents at Paul Brown Stadium, the Reds have made an effort to acknowledge they actually play in Great American Ball Park. (Though, given the Bengals' recent history, anonymity at home isn't a bad call.)

The ushers have taken vows of friendliness, the toilets aren't medieval, the concession lines should move faster than geologic time, the stunningly lame Mr. Red Race has been retired. You don't have to fear falling hunks of garage concrete when you park your car. (If you can find a place to park your car. If you don't mind the walk, try Delhi.) A good thing about the new place is, it's not the old place.

But Great American turns its back on the city. It welcomes the Big Brown Muddy. Wait until it rains a few days. All sorts of interesting things will float by the park.

A letter-writer to the Enquirer Saturday maintained Great American provides a "slight window of opportunity for this community to come together again." If the intent were to heal downtown, we'd have put the ballpark closer to the people who actually live there.

Instead, it's a comfortable place for suburbia to gather, then leave when the game is over. Just like Cinergy.

But we quibble. Great American is a nice, functional place to watch baseball. Just don't expect high heels.

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E-mail pdaugherty@enquirer.com




AN OPENING DAY LOVE LETTER
From a son to his father

REDS BASEBALL
SEASON PREVIEW
Season opener has Reds eager
Head-first dive leaves Casey cooling heels
Reds Q&A
Architects see crowd settle in
Off-field miscues threaten Bowden's tenure as GM
The next move?
Daugherty: What's so Great about new park?
Jumbotron goes way of Atari: Oldie, but goodie
Pete look-alikes used to it
Rebuilding Indians headed on right track
Anaheim buzzing as defense of title begins

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Marquette 83, Kentucky 69
Teammates laud ailing Bogans for playing in pain
Jackson jogs Estill's memory
Kansas 78, Arizona 75
Izzo is Mr. March
Oklahoma-Syracuse will be won with defense
Roller-coaster ride continues for Boeheim
Ford leads a cast of role players for Texas
NCAA tournament notes
NCAA Tournament at a glance
Lady Vols, 'Nova meet Monday in Mideast final
Norse outmuscled in Division II final
Snardon finds positives in loss
Northeastern State 75, Kentucky Wesleyan 64
Georgetown, Ky. 71, Lee, Tenn. 58

BENGALS
Bengals Q&A

PREP SPORTS
Groeschen: Prep insider
KY: No. 1 Sacred Heart 42, No. 3 Lexington Catholic 40
IN: Indpls Pike 65, DeKalb 52

GOLF
Haas, 49, hardly ready to join the senior tour
Arnie joins Nicklaus for Masters encore

HOCKEY
Victory keeps Rangers alive
Griffins edge Ducks 3-2

HORSE RACING
Seven Four Seven wins fourth straight
Moon Ballad runs away with Dubai World Cup

NBA
Talk of coaching changes begins
Nets smother Golden State

TENNIS
Serena tops Capriati

TRISTATE SPOTLITE
RedHawks go for world championship
Enquirer Page Two power rankings
Over 12,000 to participate in Mini-Marathon

PLAN YOUR DAY
Sunday's sports on TV, radio

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