I attended the second game last night in the Diamond Club Section at Great American Ball Park, the first time I’ve ever sat there. Those are the seats right behind home plate. My sense is they are almost entirely for corporate sponsors or VIPs. Maybe a handful of seats are available for purchase for individual games. Here’s a description of my experience:
You enter the Diamond Club area from the underground parking lot, level P2. After navigating four check-points, you enter a large, well decorated room, called the Diamond Club Lounge, set with tables for eating. The bar is at the far end, away from the entrance, on the right, just past one of the carving stations (roast pork with “comeback sauce”). At the far back of the room, away from the parking garage, is the entrance to the ballpark.
It turns out that this initial room, which is quite big itself, is less than half the total space of the Diamond Club Lounge. Past the bar, around the corner to the right, is another large area of tables and televisions.
Before last night, I had a general sense that food lurked behind the Diamond Club, but I was totally stunned at how first-class and enormous the underground Lounge area was. It appeared to easily seat a couple hundred people, with dozens of flat screens available to watch the game and the radio broadcast on throughout. An extremely efficient wait-staff service tended to every need.
A sprawling buffet (50 feet?) stretches along the entire length of one side of the room. It’s available before and for the first hour of the game. It’s comprised of extremely high quality food, not normal buffet fare. It’s nothing at all like ballpark food. It’s really the opposite of ballpark food. Even more than a few healthy options.
Bob Castellini, Joe Morgan and a few others sat at the table next to me. The Reds’ owner had been in the Diamond Club section for the conclusion of the first game and arrived to dinner all bundled up. After he took off his winter clothes, he waited in the buffet line like everyone else. I resisted the temptation to interrupt his evening to thank him for his extraordinary commitment to the Reds, deciding he likely valued his privacy more than hearing a fan compliment for the thousandth time. It struck me how utterly cool it would be to eat there for free any night you wanted to because you *owned* it.
I was the guest of one of the big time corporate sponsors of the Reds through a friend who is a client. My seat was in the fourth row, five seats from dead center behind home plate. I’ve been told I was in the TV shot most of the night. I regretted not having a sign that said “Free Chapman.”
Once seated outside, you receive virtually constant wait-staff service the entire game with free (upscale) ballpark food and drinks. It’s prompt, accurate and generous. I spent most of the game loading hot chocolate to fight off the arctic weather. At any point you can go back inside and watch in the warm comfort of the big buffet room. And, I assume, in air conditioned splendor in the summer.
The Diamond Club seats provide an amazing view of the game. While my regular season tickets are excellent, sitting right behind home plate allows a real understanding of what pitches are being thrown. Mike Leake’s curve ball was great last night – in tight on the lefties and diving off the plate for righties. Being that close also makes you appreciate how impossibly difficult it is to hit a baseball and makes you wonder how anyone does it. Leake’s home run off Gerrit Cole’s 93-mph fastball was breathtaking from that proximity.
And while I didn’t partake in this particular aspect of the Diamond Club experience, there are bar drinks of various octane levels available throughout, gratis.
For your birthday sometime, I recommend you ask for a Diamond Club ticket. And then hope that you’re worthy of a $250 present.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.