Great American Ball Park ready for primetime

New amenities have home of Reds set for All-Star Game

Great American Ball Park ready for primetime

CINCINNATI -- Great American Ball Park, the Reds' home since 2003, is still relatively youthful for a stadium. But with the 2015 All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile rolling in, along with thousands of visitors and a primetime television audience, a fresh makeover of sorts certainly will have it ready to stand out on a big stage.

While these improvements will help GABP look its best for All-Star week, Reds fans will be able to enjoy them the rest of the season and for many years ahead.

During the offseason, the Reds made a flurry of upgrades that have been enjoyed by fans -- including The Handlebar at the Riverfront Club, all-new food concession stands, a retail row, Bootleggers Bar on the first base side and even a nursing suite for new mothers. Much more has been added in the past days and weeks.

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"The stadium has gone through a renaissance over the last few years, there has been so much that has been done," said Tim O'Connell, the Reds' vice president of ballpark operations. "We, in cooperation with our corporate partners, have upgraded signage. We have freshened up the ballpark. …

"The ballpark is in the best condition it's been in since it opened up."

Here are some of the more recent enhancements fans will notice:

• A second LED video board was installed above the sun/moon deck seats in right field. Built with the support of Procter and Gamble, the new board was up and running for the Reds' final homestand before the All-Star Game. With a display that is 90 feet wide and 31 feet high, about 7,500 seat holders that had limited or obstructed view of the main video board will benefit.

• Free public WiFi service is working. Set up in conjunction with MLB, the wireless network labeled "REDSWIFI" does not require a password to connect and is supported by more than 570 high-density antennas located around the ballpark.

• Through a partnership between MLB Advanced Media and Delaware North Sportservice, fans can place mobile orders to have LaRosa's Pizza and soft drinks delivered to their seats. It is available through the MLB.com Ballpark app for supported iPhones and Android smartphones throughout the seating areas.

• For better sound quality, all 99 speakers inside the stadium have been replaced to improve the acoustics in all areas.

• Landscaping improvements were made throughout. Included is a nine-foot tall and 110-foot long "living wall" on the ballpark gates by the Kroger Fan Zone - with nearly 10,000 flowers in over 900 planters mounted on the gates. There are also new trees and flowers around the main gates on Crosley Terrace and 20 large pots decorating entry gates around the ballpark.

The Reds are also stressing for fans to allow for extra time. While many Reds fans are familiar with the ballpark, there will be a lot of first-time visitors for the All-Star Game and the other events. "There are going to be people coming from throughout the U.S., probably throughout the world. First of all, come early," O'Connell said. "The traffic is what it's going to be and the police department is going to do whatever they possibly can do to make it as smooth as possible. But we have a lot going on so it's inherent with these types of big events that there's going to be some traffic.

"We are going to have so many visitors that they're going to need extra time, they're going to need directions, so the city has done a great job in putting their maps together, it's on their website. … Come and enjoy the ballpark."

And the voting doesn't end there. During the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile in Cincinnati on Tuesday, July 14, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.

MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities, including the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday, July 13. The Derby will feature a new format with brackets and timed rounds and will be broadcast live by ESPN and MLB.com beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

The 86th Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (coverage begins 7 p.m. ET), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. Associate reporter Robert Bondy contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.