Best Of 2021

Banning living, breathing human fans from stadiums across the country (because of COVID-19) continued into football season, as did the cardboard avatar trend. For the Bengals’ home opener in September, Who Dey Cutouts were available for purchase, with net proceeds benefiting six of the team’s community partners: The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati, Freestore Foodbank, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Salvation Army Greater Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky, Good Samaritan Foundation and the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. There were strict guidelines on what to wear (or not to wear — no political/offensive/lewd statements, hashtags, social media handles, phone numbers or random branding) in your photo, how high you could hold your arms, how large the photo could be and more. The resulting figures were then placed in random seats in the North and South End Zones. The team also warned that buying a cutout didn’t mean your flat face was guaranteed to appear on TV, just that it could attend the game. bengals.com.

The Cincinnati Bengals are hoping for a touchdown when it comes to their new look, which was teased in a January Twitter post and will be unveiled this spring. The team will sport new stripes on its uniforms, according to a video posted on their social media channels. The short clip offers a timeline of the Bengals’ uniforms over the past decades, spanning from 1968’s stripe-less “The Originals,” shifting to “The First Stripes” in 1981, then to the “Leaping Tiger” in 1997, and next to the “Modern Stripes” in 2004 until 2020 (and the white alternative “Color Rush” between 2016-2020). The teaser provides no hint as to what the new uniforms will look like, but the Bengals website assures fans that the team’s tiger-striped helmet is here to stay. Some photos leaked in March, but the franchise refused to confirm or deny whether they were real. At the time of publication, official images of the new gear still hadn’t been released. 

bengals.com.

Cincinnati Reds fans have some experience drowning their sorrows. And a recent survey from NJ Online Gambling about the drinking habits of MLB fanbases seems to confirm it. The survey shows that Reds fans are No. 3 in the country for boozing it up, consuming 3.8 drinks per game and spending about $40 on alcohol. Cincinnati fans also are No. 4 in drinking before the game even starts, with 67% of survey respondents saying they’re big on pregame action. All this drinking has a price, though, as Reds fans are No. 2 for missing some or all of games because they’re too damn drunk. reds.com.

In 2020, Milwaukee’s National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum unveiled a limited-edition bobblehead of one very special Cincinnati Bengal: Joe Burrow. The bobblehead design featured quarterback Burrow riding a Bengal tiger. (“Bobbleheads riding stuff” is apparently a thing and the museum also produced Al Kaline riding a Detroit Tiger, Carson Wentz riding a Philadelphia Eagle and Josh Allen riding a Buffalo Bill, among many others.) Burrow, a Heisman Trophy winner, was the first pick by the Bengals during the 2020 NFL Draft. The quarterback previously played for Louisiana State University and led the team to “a national championship as he threw for 5,671 yards and an NCAA FBS-record 60 touchdowns with only six interceptions,” says the museum. To commemorate his collegiate achievements, the museum also unveiled two LSU Burrow bobbleheads — one featured Burrow in a Heisman pose and the other featured Burrow riding an LSU tiger. Each Burrow bobble was limited to a production run of 2,020. bobbleheadhall.com

The Trust for Public Land announced that Cincinnati’s park system ranked fifth in the nation in the Annual ParkScore Index Report, climbing three spots above its ranking in 2019. (Minneapolis had the No. 1 ranking park system in the nation. Oklahoma City was ranked the worst.) ParkScore rankings are based on park access, acreage, investment and amenities, including the number of basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, “splash pads,” recreation and senior centers and restrooms. Cincinnati claimed the highest score in the U.S. for park amenities and also received strong marks for park access and park investment. cincinnatiparks.com.

Best DORA District to Grab a Brew and Ride Your Bike

The flat, paved Loveland Bike Trail/ Little Miami Scenic Trail is a joy to pedal — even more so when you stop at a local bar for a drink to-go. Loveland is a DORA district, or a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, meaning you can grab a cocktail or beer from a participating establishment — in a branded cup — and sip while you stroll; just make sure you don’t go beyond the established boundaries. lovelandoh.gov.


Former Cincinnati Reds pitcher and Baseball Hall of Famer Tom Seaver died in August 2020 at the age of 75. Seaver — also known as “Tom Terrific” — played six seasons with the Cincinnati Reds (1977-’82), and also played for the Chicago White Sox (1984-’86), Boston Red Sox (1986) and spent 12 seasons with the New York Mets (1967-’77 and 1983). “Tom Seaver was one of the best and most inspirational pitchers to play the game,” said Reds Chief Executive Officer Bob Castellini in a statement. “We are grateful that Tom’s Hall of Fame career included time with the Reds. We are proud to count his name among the greats in the Reds Hall of Fame. He will be missed.” The Reds say Seaver won 75 games for the team between 1978 and 1982 and was a National League All-Star for them in 1978 and 1981. He threw his first and only career no-hitter in 1978 when the Reds played the St. Louis Cardinals on July 16. According to the Baseball Hall of Fame, in 1981 he also became the fifth player in game history to record 3,000 strike-outs. Other accolades include three Cy Young Awards and three National League ERA titles. Seaver was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown in 1992, “when he was named on 98.8% of ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the highest voting percentage ever received at the time.” Upon news of his passing, celebrities and baseball fans from across the spectrum — including Adam Sandler, Hank Aaron and Dan Rather — took to social media to remember Seaver and his greatness. reds.com.

This past summer, the Forest Hills Board of Education voted to officially retire the Anderson High School Redskins mascot. In what most humans would consider an overdue move, a release about the decision says it came after “community discussion, input and significant work to support inclusivity and diversity across the district.” On their Twitter, the National Congress of American Indians thanked the high school for standing on the “right side of history.” The school’s new mascot is an orange-red velociraptor bearing pointy white teeth and claws. Secondary logos include a close-up of a menacing dinosaur eye and a slashed Anderson “A.” In recent years, professional and local sports teams across the country have been changing or beginning to change team names and mascots that are racist, predominantly those with negative references to Indigenous Americans. In December, the Cleveland Indians announced that the team would take a new name and mascot before the 2022 baseball season; it had retired the controversial Chief Wahoo mascot beginning with the 2019 season and currently uses a stylized “C” on its uniforms. Anderson High School is still in the process of removing all references to its former mascot. After more than 80 years on the scene, the board says the Native American caricature will be “phased out in stages” during the 2020-21 school year.

 

Wasson Way is the area’s most recent railroad-turned-bike-trail. “Right now there’s about 1.5 miles between Madison Road and Montgomery Road,” Tri-State Trails Director Wade Johnston told CityBeat this past summer. “Tri-State Trails helped secure $6 million last year to extend the trail west to Avondale and east through Ault Park to the Murray Trail. Through our #CROWNcincinnati project, we are working to connect this to the Ohio River Trail and Mill Creek Greenway to create a 34-mile trail loop around the city.” The trail will begin construction on the Red Bank Road leg soon. And Great Parks just broke ground on the Beechmont Bridge Connector. The project will allow users to safely travel from the Little Miami Scenic Trail to the Ohio River Trail for the first time. The new connector will link the existing Little Miami Scenic Trail terminus near State Route 32 and Beechmont with the Otto Armleder Memorial Park to Lunken Trail and the future Elstun Road Connector. greenumbrella.org; wassonway.org.

FC Cincinnati has announced that the team will play Inter Miami CF in a match that will serve as both the 2021 season’s home opener and West End Stadium’s very first Major League Soccer game. The match begins at 4 p.m. May 16 and will be nationally televised on FOX and FOX Deportes. Tickets are available only in season membership packages. Construction began on West End Stadium in 2018 and will be completed in time for the opener. The $250 million stadium will hold about 26,000 fans and is wrapped with illuminating “fins.” All seats are covered by a 360-degree roof canopy, under which guests can find beers like Rhinegeist, Sam Adams or Heineken at concession stands. The stadium’s First Financial Club, the largest club in the building, spans the entire east side of the structure and will be home to a beer hall — inspired by Over-the-Rhine’s renaissance — offering 40 taps and focusing on craft beers. fccincinnati.com.