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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Bowling Green Ballpark has been home to the Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest League since the 2009 season. The 4,559-seat stadium was was designed by architectural firm DLR Group and it features a concave right-center field wall due to the road behind the stadium and an embedded 6 by 68-foot LED display board in the left field wall. The price tag on the stadium was $28 million when completed in 2009.
Bowling Green’s population is near 67,000 and is probably best known for being the home to Western Kentucky University and the manufacturing home of the Chevrolet Corvette, with the Corvette Museum located in town. The city is somewhat new to minor league baseball and there is not a rich history that you might find in other cities, although the town was home to the Bowling Green Barons from 1939-1942.
The Hot Rods ended the 67-year drought with the completion of ballpark construction in 2009, and looking at its front entrance there is a nod to baseball past with retro paintings of step by step instructions on how to swing a bat in pink and black colors. The Hot Rods are the Single-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There is quite a bit to choose from at the ballpark. The tastier options include the grilled cheeseburgers that cost $7.50 and include bacon and blue cheese, mushroom and swiss, and bacon and cheddar. The Philly cheesesteaks and nachos, pulled pork, beef brisket, and BBQ nachos are all bargains at $7. If you have a sausage fix, there are brats, hot dogs, Italian, and Polish sausages ranging in cost from $5-$7.
There are still more options that include grilled chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers, chicken tenders, Buffalo chicken tenders with fries, and chilli cheese fries. The prices range from $4.50 to $7.25. The best little treat might be the foot long corn dog that costs $6. If you have a sweet tooth, there are ice cream sundaes and waffle cones available. Overall, it's an impressive array of food throughout the ballpark.
The ballpark is clean, cozy, and comfortable. It has all the elements needed to provide comfort to the ballpark patron. Bowling Green Ballpark features a few great vantage points to make the fan experience a little special.
There is the Budweiser Patio in right field and the Reinhart Foodservice Landing in left field that offer outfield views of home plate. The Corvette Club is opened to season ticket holders and features an indoor full service bar above home plate.
Axle's Adventureland and Roscoe's Ranch are two play areas for the children. Axle's is located down the right field line and features a netted playground along with a carnival like game booth. Kids can also ride stuffed animal lions and elephants for $5 for 10 minutes. Roscoe's Ranch is located behind the batter's eye; unfortunately, the stadium does not feature a wraparound concourse, creating a little bit of walk between these two sections.
Speaking of Axle and Roscoe, they are the team's official mascots and they can be found throwing t-shirts into the crowd, giving high fives to fans, or sitting around watching the game.
The official team shop is called The Body Shop and displays an admirable collection of team merchandise.
Bowling Green Ballpark is situated in a college town, but it's much more than that. The downtown square is within walking distance of the stadium and offers a few nice bars and restaurants that are busy on the weekend nights. 440 Main Restaurant and Bar offers fine dining minutes away from the home field of the Hot Rods.
The Mellow Mushroom is a nice option for pizza and beers before or after the game and so is the White Squirrel Brewery. Both are located within a mile from the stadium.
Outside of the ballpark area are two great places to grab food: Lost River Pizza Company and Double Dogs, two inexpensive eateries that are approved by locals.
A little further up the road on I-65 is Mammoth Cave National Park, featuring numerous underground tours that will fascinate and keep you cool during the hot summer months. There is an adventure to be had when you take a two hour cave tour and squeeze through narrow passages and tunnels. It is one of the great national parks of the United States.
The fans are rather quiet, but supportive of the Hot Rods. They are like many other Single-A fans who do their best to support their club at home. The night that we were there was Bark at the Park Night and it felt that there could have been more promotions going on at the stadium, since this type of night brings out many a dog lover to the stadium.
Bowling Green Ballpark is located within a few miles of I-65 and there is free parking in the various lots on streets near the facility. Once inside, the small and cozy conditions make for a rather accessible stadium. There is even signage directing motorists to the ballpark, something that is not always common in smaller sized cities. The average fan should have no problems being able to watch the game away from the seat while waiting in line for food.
There are five price points for tickets that consist of $7, $9, $11, $17, and $22 tickets. These prices go up by two bucks on game day and are somewhat higher than other Midwest League ballpark ticket prices. However, there are enough options to satisfy most customers. The price and variety of food, plus the free parking make for an affordable night out at the ball game.
One additional point for the free parking.
One final extra point for the nice variety of menu options at the concession stands.
Bowling Green Ballpark is very modern and comfortable place to watch Single-A baseball. There are many nice touches from the LED screen in left field, the curved right field wall, and the kids play area. It makes for a great ballpark visit when in the area, or on your way to a couple of ballpark heavyweights in Louisville or Nashville.
Member Review by Jordan_Baer
The Bowling Green Hot Rods of the Midwest League (formerly of the South Atlantic League) have played at Bowling Green Ballpark since 2009. After relocating from Wilmington, NC, Albany, GA, and then Columbus, GA, the Hot Rods have finally found a long term home in Bowling Green, KY. Home to Western Kentucky University, sports crazed Bowling Green has welcomed the Hot Rods in with open arms and looks to be a successful minor-league baseball story.
Bowling Green Ballpark is unique with its home plate and grandstand being in the middle of the plot of land it's on instead of the corner of the lot. As a result, fans enter the ballpark from the first base and third base sides rather than through a large rotunda behind home plate like many other ballparks. This unique design also makes for great views down left and right field of the short porch walls that divide traffic from the ballpark.
I came away from Bowling Green Ballpark very impressed with the facility and urge any fan of the game of baseball to visit this ballpark. It is a must see for anyone in the Midwest and Southeastern regions.
Member Review by oldskoolberk on Jun 09, 2014
Bowling Green Ballpark doesn't break the mold when it comes to the new Minor League parks. The blueprint is similar to others with wide concourses that you can still see the game out of, luxury boxes/club level boxes on the second level, and some quirky dimensions in the outfield. You can also add in the fact the park is adjacent to some upper scale restaurants right by the place and it is pretty much a standard "new" park.
But it isn't a bad place to go to as the Hot Rods, trying to pay homage to their auto industry, tried to throw in a "factory" feel to it, though it might have a slightly unfinished feel to it. But if you're in the area and the Hot Rods are playing, check it out.
FOOD & BEVERAGE: Nothing really out of the ordinary save for the Mexican food stand. You could make a "burrito in a bowl" which we tried. Only problem was, even with the works on it, the thing still tasted very bland. The meat was missing seasoning and that killed the rest of the bowl.
ATMOSPHERE: You have a good Class-A atmosphere. It doesn't scream awesome, but you know you are in a Minor League park here. And the Hot Rods did everything in their power to make it a good atmosphere.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Set in historic downtown Bowling Green, and you have 3 or 4 restaurants you can hit before or after the game, which also have the cornhole boards you can play to or from the game. It was unique to say the least. But overall it is in a very nice spot.
FANS: I went to a game where the Hot Rods had a doubleheader and got there midway through, but there was hardly anybody there. I thought to myself that the fans would come out for the second game, but not really. I would venture to say less than 1,000 showed up total. The fans that were there were into it though.
ACCESS: Take the main road in Bowling Green to downtown and find the local parking deck. There it is free and you are a small walk away from the park.
ROI: Tickets are pretty good as about $11 notches you behind home plate. Foods were slightly expensive for a Class-A Minor League game, but nothing entirely too bad, especially if you hit $2 drink nights. Souvenirs were about what you expect, possibly a couple dollars less. Overall an affordable outing for some good Minor League Baseball.
1035 Chestnut St
Bowling Green, KY 42101
871 Broadway Ave
Bowling Green, KY 42101
2440 Nashville Rd
Bowling Green, KY 42101
350 Corvette Drive
Bowling Green, KY 42101
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