CINCINNATI — Last year's Reds Opening Day was like none other in the team's history, and this year's is shaping up to be just as unique, as pandemic-related disruptions continue to restrict how we can gather and enjoy this most sacred of Cincinnati holidays.
While there will be no ceremonial parade, there will be (some) fans in the stands and places around town where you can enjoy socially-distanced food and drink while watching the game.
Game starts: @ 4:10 p.m. (gates open at 2:40)
Visitors: St. Louis Cardinals
Weather conditions: Chilly with a high of 39, fair skies
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Whether you're watching from the stands, from a barstool, or from your own home, you've got to know the lineup.
Going to the ballpark
For fans with tickets to Great American Ball Park, gates will open at 2:40 p.m. with pregame ceremonies starting around 3:30 p.m.
The park will be at 30% capacity with social distancing measures implemented throughout visitors' entire experience, including seat-podding of up to six seats allowed in close proximity. All visitors must wear a mask, and all food and drink purchases will be cashless using a mobile app.
Retiring Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio will throw the ceremonial first pitch to kick off the pregame ceremonies.
Other pregame ceremonies will include:
- The park will observe a moment of remembrance for all players, coaches and staff that have passed away since last year's Opening Day, with a special tribute to Hall of Famer Joe Morgan.
- Marlana VanHoose from Denver, Ky., will sing the National Anthem.
- A pregame flyover will be performed by two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 112th Fighter Squadron "Stingers" out of Toledo, Ohio.
- Multiple military, first responder, and frontline and medical workers will be honored.
During the game, a master sergeant from the Wright Patterson Air Force Base Band of Flight will sing "God Bless America" during the 7th Inning Stretch, following a moment of silence for the more than half-million who have died so far during the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.
Fans attending the game will get a little bit of swag, too, during their visit.
Watching the game elsewhere
For fans who plan to visit The Banks -- and its newly designated, 85-acre open-container zone -- read here about how bars and restaurants there are ready and eager to welcome the Reds faithful.
And if you do visit The Banks, be sure to listen for the (simulated) roaring of the fans. Even though the stadium will be at less than a third of its capacity, it will still sound like a sell-out crowd.
For those who don't want to get so close, there's no shortage of events happening across the Tri-State.
And for those watching on TV, you can read up a bit on the Reds' new television announcer, John Sadak, and how calling for the Reds has been a lifelong dream here.
Worried about crowds?
Despite the celebratory atmosphere, Cincinnati police Capt. Doug Weisman said it is important to remember: "We are still in a pandemic."
Weisman urged all visitors to Downtown, The Banks, or any other place where large crowds could gather to stick to their party and to wear face coverings.
The Banks spokeswoman Tracy Schwegmann also reminded visitors that there's plenty of space to spread out in the new designated outdoor refreshment area.
"It's an enormous footprint. We certainly want folks, as they come down to the DORA, to be mindful of those health recommendations that are in place to help keep you safe," she told WCPO.
City officials went on high alert this week after The Banks' open-container district drew large crowds during its first weekend.
Beyond Opening Day
Great American Ball Park crowds will remain limited for the foreseeable future, so finding game tickets might be tough for a while.
For those watching from home, we've got tips on how you can stream Reds games all season long if you don't subscribe to Fox Sports One.