Design Details: The Gap at Great American Ball Park

July 15, 2015

Last night, one of our ballparks – Great American Ball Park – took center stage as the host venue for the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. It’s the 12th ballpark we’ve designed in 13 years that has hosted the MLB All-Star Game, and it’s one of those moments you dream of as an architect. Seeing a project you worked on have an entire country’s attention is special. It also results in a really interesting chance for us to hear and see the reactions to the space in a way that is similar to Opening Day. Many of the fans who step inside for the game are visiting Cincinnati for a first time and many of them have questions about the ballpark itself. Yesterday, I saw a number of questions pop up on social media and beyond about the signature feature of Great American Ball Park – the gap. I wanted to explain the thought process behind the design so everyone who caught the game yesterday and those who get to visit the ballpark in the future can talk about why the gap exists and what it means to Cincinnati.


During the design process, one of the key concepts that arose from conversations with our client, Reds’ John Allen, was that they didn’t want 10,000 of any seat type. They wanted real, small, approachable neighborhoods… places where fans could belong within the ballpark. The team and Populous also was keen to capture the essence of Cincinnati and we knew this would mean taking a non-traditional approach to the outfield, something that would work in tandem with the neighborhoods approach. The gap was then envisioned to follow the street grid of Cincinnati, connecting to Sycamore Street, and to take advantage of views of the Ohio River and ensure those beautiful views could actually be seen by fans in the stadium. The gap also served the function of separating the seating bowl into north and west sides to create greater intimacy, while giving everyone distinct views of the water and of downtown. This results in an authentic pedestrian connection to the River and to Roebling Bridge.

Oriole Park has the warehouse and AT&T Park has the bay. In Cincinnati, Great American Ball Park has the gap.  And the gap is part of what makes Great American Ball Park such an intimate and real environment for all fans – whether visiting for the All-Star Game or those who call Great American Ball Park their second home.


Read more about Populous’ involvement with the MLB All-Star Game & Great American Ball Park:

  • Joe Spear on Bloomberg TV’s “Market Makers” discussing ballpark design and the All-Star Game: bg/1gzuntS 

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