CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds' season opener Thursday at Great American Ball Park will look different than past Opening Days.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only thirty percent of the stadium's seats will be full of fans cheering on the hometown team.
There will also be plenty of reminders around the ballpark about social distancing, plus a new cashless system to buy food and drinks.
"We've effectively designed the building under CDC guidelines," said Phil Castellini, chief operating officer and president of the Cincinnati Reds.
For Great American Ball Park that means "pods" of seating in the stadium distanced six feet apart and a Reds Pay smartphone app that people can use to purchase food and drink. There also will be no vendors selling food and drink in aisles during Thursday's opener.
Castellini said despite the changes his organization has found ways to still make going to the ballpark fun this year.
There will be new food items, like the S'mores box fries, which is just like it sounds. The new fry box will include a bed of french fries topped with chocolate sauce, marshmallows and plain M&Ms. Other new food options will include a spicy chicken sandwich and nachos topped with Queen City Sausage red hot sausages.
Off the food menu, there also will be a new TriHealth Family Zone and the upscale Boone County Bourbon Press Club in the former press box area of the ballpark located behind home plate.
"We now refer to it as an all-inclusive, kind of like a Diamond Club experience, but just a little higher behind home plate," Castellini said of the space, which is available to season ticket holders. "It was always going to be bourbon-themed. It was always going to be a speakeasy meets hotel swanky bar-club experience."
The Reds also transformed another portion of the third level into the TriHealth Family Zone, which includes a slide, batting cage and swings for families to enjoy.
"This is another corner of the ballpark we've been looking at a project for quite some time," Castellini said. "And so with the partnership TriHealth, we've effectively created a second fan zone, family experience, really geared toward the younger family. There's a playset. A place to do whiffle ball and batting cage where kids feel like they are hitting balls right into the river."
To learn more about the Family Zone and the Boone County Bourbon Press Box visit reds.com.