Reds' Ballpark Design Displayed

Thursday, May 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CINCINNATI (AP) — The water might be out of reach in the Cincinnati Reds' new ballpark.

A tentative design displayed Thursday sets the distance from home plate to the Ohio River at 568 feet, meaning the muddy brown river is probably safe.

By comparison, Mark McGwire's longest career homer was measured at 545 feet. McGwire hit the longest homer ever at Cinergy Field last week, a 473-foot shot into the upper deck.

Splashdown homers have become a signature at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco, where Barry Bonds has already hit three over the right-field stands into the bay.

He and Ken Griffey Jr. will have a much harder time plopping one into the river.

``It's a little farther than San Francisco,'' HOK Sport manager Joe Spear said.

The 42,060-seat ballpark is scheduled to open in 2003, overlapping Cinergy's site. The left field stands will be removed after this season to make way for construction to begin.

Architects had to wedge the new stadium between a coliseum, Cinergy and an interstate just to the north. Buildings housing the team's offices and a Reds' hall of fame will flank the new stadium.

``This ballpark is probably the most complicated project we've ever worked on,'' Spear said.

There will be nothing unique about the playing field — no strange nooks or crannies in the outfield. The wall will be slightly closer than at Cinergy Field — 328 feet to a 12-foot wall in left, compared to 330 foot to an 8-foot wall now; 404 feet to center, same as now; 325 feet to right with an 8-foot wall, compared to 330 feet now.

The left-field gap will be a few feet deeper and the right-field gap a few feet shorter than at Cinergy, where it's 375 feet both ways.

The most eye-catching feature of the ballpark will be a cutout in the stands near home plate, allowing pedestrians to get a glimpse inside.

There will be touches tying the new place to the club's past. The club plans a rose garden marking the spot where Pete Rose's record-setting hit No. 4,192 landed. A grass terrace reminiscent of Crosley Field will lead to the main entrance.

Many of the details haven't been worked out and changes are expected.

``This is still a work in progress,'' Reds chief operating officer John Allen said. ``This is not 100 percent complete. There are going to be nuances added for the next 6-12 months, probably.''

The Reds considered putting a terrace in the outfield, reminiscent of Crosley Field, but decided against it. Houston's new ballpark features a rise in the grass in front of the center-field wall.

``When I talked to the National League, we didn't get any support for it because of the potential of injury to players,'' Allen said.