Opening Day arrives at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark on Monday, and Reds fans will be able to take advantage of a new innovation: a dedicated suite for nursing mothers.
Phil Castellini, the chief operating officer of the Cincinnati Reds, joined Bill Littlefield.
BL: Phil, how did you get involved in helping to create a nursing suite at the Reds’ home ballpark?
[sidebar title="Unusual Opening Day Moments" width="630" align="right"]Who threw the only Opening Day no-hitter? ESPN's Tim Kurkjian has that answer and other stories from MLB's most memorable Opening Day moments.[/sidebar]PC: It really started with suggestions from fans who asked if we could place chairs in the ladies' rooms for nursing moms. And being a father of five children and having seen my wife struggle with these same challenges at all kinds of venues — in airports and shopping malls and everything else — we decided to look for a better solution than just the chairs.
And so we had created a lobby space in a project we did back in 2009 that was seldom-used, and we went and sought some sponsors to help us fund the build-out, and we did that with Fischer Homes and, of course, Pampers, a great P&G brand locally headquartered in Cincinnati.
BL: You went way past putting chairs in the ladies' room. You got a kitchenette, a refrigerator for milk storage, a TV — so the nursing mothers don't have to miss the game. This is fantastic. This is a great place to watch a ballgame.
PC: It really is. It's not just the nursing mom. You might have [a toddler] with you as well. Things that they can do — they can sit down and color and hang out for a little while while mom does her thing with the baby. It's as high-end as it gets for this kind of need, and that's what we like to do. We say, "These are the dreams we make happen every day at Great American Ballpark."
BL: Just to be clear, the nursing suite at Great American Ball Park is not technically the first such facility at a major league ballpark, but it's the only one custom built for such a purpose, correct?
PC: Yeah, that's correct. You know, we benchmark all the time and steal ideas shamelessly from other parks. And I know Seattle's one that we looked at as well as a couple others. And we just tried to take it to the next level and we had a space to work with and we had a couple great partners to work on the build out, and they just did a fantastic job with the finishes. It really feels like you're in somebody's home: really comfortable swivel chairs and, again, flat-screen TVs. You can follow the action while you're up there, and it's a great solution for an otherwise pretty much unusable space.
It's pretty easy to stay at home and watch a game on your flat screen, and we're trying to give you more reasons to come experience the game live.Phil Castellini, Reds COO
PC: Well, it's already happened at the player level. Most of the new ballparks have locker rooms that you'd be happy to live in, and we certainly take care of our players in that regard. But we try to improve the fan experience every year at Great American. It's pretty easy to stay at home and watch a game on your flat screen, and we're trying to give you more reasons to come experience the game live. So we make improvements to the park every year.
BL: There has been concern, in recent years especially, that baseball fans are getting older — baseball has an older fanbase than basketball or football, for example — and that MLB should be trying to attract a younger following. I'm wondering if this nursing suite is just a marketing ploy to get fans hooked on baseball as young as possible — possibly even before they're entirely sure where they are.
PC: Well, we've got more campaigns than just that one. We've got a birthday babies membership where if you're born at one of the local TriHealth hospitals in Cincinnati, you get a little goody bag with a onesie and a certificate for your newborn to come to a game, and we do a parade of those moms and newborns around the field at one of the games. So, you know, we've got a philosophy of getting them cradle to grave in terms of Reds fans, so we're right there with you, Bill.
This segment aired on April 4, 2015.