CINCINNATI -- A couple of decades ago, in the nascent days of Redsfest, the event was largely a baseball card show that featured a few autograph sessions. It's only gotten bigger and better in the past 10 years with more sights, sounds and interactive experiences to heighten the excitement of
CINCINNATI -- A couple of decades ago, in the nascent days of Redsfest, the event was largely a baseball card show that featured a few autograph sessions. It's only gotten bigger and better in the past 10 years with more sights, sounds and interactive experiences to heighten the excitement of Reds fans.
Redsfest 2017 opened Friday afternoon at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Tickets can be purchased at reds.com/redsfest or at the convention center. The event continues through Saturday.
"Now that we've created it to the monster that it is, I would put it up against any fan fest in any sport," Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini said on Thursday. "I think fans have really gotten to appreciate and like the effort that is made here to reach out to them and connect them to our players."
As in past years, the hub of Redsfest is the main stage that will feature players participating in Q&A sessions, game shows and other fun activities. The rest of the event will cover all three floors of the convention center, and it will feature autograph signings, pictures, interactive games, memorabilia sales, Wiffle ball, a social media zone and more.
Staff members were putting the finishing touches on the space Thursday morning. It was noticeable that the aisles were a little wider for foot traffic, and there were some tweaks to the some of the exhibit areas.
"We're always trying to improve. The standard format is here. It doesn't change 180 degrees, but changes a little bit," Castellini said. "It's always trying to get the flow better and make the fan experience better.
"We want to make it better each year, and keep the elements that work great and improve the elements that created bottlenecks."
More than 75 current players and coaches, Reds Hall of Famers, alumni and broadcasters were scheduled to attend -- including Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, Tucker Barnhart, Raisel Iglesias, manager Bryan Price and more. For the first time as an alum, former rotation ace Aaron Harang will be on hand.
Minor League prospects are also part of the experience, and the Reds will have their top two prospects in attendance: Nick Senzel and Hunter Greene.
"If you're a Minor Leaguer and haven't been up yet, and you come to Redsfest for the first time, this feels very big league," Castellini said. "I think it inspires these guys as Minor Leaguers that this is a cool thing and it's a big deal and that this is a baseball town. It's the first weekend of December, and we've got 20,000 people to see these guys for two days in the offseason. I think it helps instill in them what this franchise is all about."
Redsfest runs Friday from 3-10:30 p.m. ET and Saturday from 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Two-day tickets are $25 for adults and $12 for kids 12 and younger. One-day tickets are $17 for adults and $7 for kids. Children three and under are admitted free.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.