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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Baseball has been an integral part of Louisville since the 19th century: Louisville Slugger bats, Honus Wagner’s, the National League, and the first minor league team to attract 1 million people. The current AAA baseball team, the Louisville Bats have called Louisville Slugger Field home since 2000. The 13,131 seat stadium has not only been one of top draws in the International League, but throughout minor league baseball. The ballpark successfully incorporates the rich history of Louisville baseball with the present day amenities expected by today’s ballpark traveler.
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There is a nice selection of ballpark cuisine throughout the stadium, and the hot dogs taste a little bit better when they are only a dollar on Tuesdays. However, do not fret if you are in attendance on another night, since there are a few tasty options that you may like.
The fried bologna sandwich might be an acquired taste, but it is actually a great alternative to the hot dog and will only cost you $3 ($5.50 for a double). There is a grill that serves cheesesteaks and sausages and you can also have some of that cheesesteak cheese poured on top of nachos for $6.50 (what, no Cheez Whiz?).
There are also a few delights for the sweet tooth such as snow cones, funnel cakes, and Blue Bell Ice Cream available at certain stands.
A draft beer will run you no more than $6. There are single servings of both red and white wines, and tequila is proudly served on draft behind the left field grass seating.
Then there is the wonderfully delicious smell of smoked meats enticing my nose. After realizing that it was coming from the Against the Grain Smoke House and Brewery, I decided that I had to have at least a beer or appetizer. The restaurant is situated on the right field line and brews their own beer; they also have great food. The pork belly on a stick, hickory nachos, pork risotto fritters, schnitzel, spare ribs and tacos carnitas are all served with homemade barbecue sauces. A pint will cost you $4.75 and the smell of smoke will make you hungry, if not happy. There is also an all you can eat section in the covered rightfield stands that is available for groups of 20 or more.
The design of the facility is unique in that it was incorporated into a historic rail freight depot that formerly occupied the space. The 19th century train shed serves as the front entrance, ticket area and a multipurpose room for events. The majority of the building features brick exterior and is within blocks of the banks of the Ohio River. There are also beautiful views of Louisville's skyline from the outfield seating area.
The Bats do an incredible job of providing a link to their predecessors and the rich history of baseball in the city. Before the Bats, there were the Redbirds, Colonels, and Eclipse. Pictures, banners, trophies and artifacts are all on display through the main entrances to the ballpark. A glorious statue of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and Louisville native Pee Wee Reese adorns the main entrance off Main Street. Inside the likes of Carlton Fisk, Dwight Evans, Honus Wagner, Willie McGee, Phil Neikro, and a host of others remind you of the talent that once called this city home.
Inside it is a carnival of sorts with promotions that feature the likes of bring your dog to the park, fireworks, happy hour and live music on Thursdays, and ticket specials that should make any day of the week the center of excitement. There is a playground that includes a carousel for the kids in the right field corner, grass seating dotted along the left field walls, and plenty of room to roam around and take in numerous seating options.
The fans are your usual minor league mix of baseball zealots and folks looking for a night out on the town. For example, on a recent bring your dog to the park night; there were a total of 720 canines in attendance (even though they do not count in the final night's tally) and a host of local businesses that specialize either in the area of pet care, grooming, or nutrition. It seems as if it always a great time to be a Louisville Bats' game.
Louisville Slugger Field is located within steps of the Louisville Waterfront Park and within blocks of the main area of downtown. It is also across the street from lofts that are currently under construction.
Bardstown Road is a few miles by car where one can find a copious amount of pizza parlors, bars, small concert venues, and one of my favorite craft brew spots: Cumberland Brewery. You can sit outside and enjoy pints of beers, tear into a slice of pizza, or take in an art craft film.
If you are looking for more of a fine dining establishment, then MilkWood in downtown is a great destination.
Of course, there is the Louisville Slugger Museum, Churchill Downs (racing after dark during June and July), University of Louisville, and the beautiful Victorian homes and row houses that dot different areas throughout the city. You will be able to keep yourself busy in town before or after a baseball game.
The Bats were ranked fourth in total AAA attendance in 2012 and they made a boring Tuesday night into a weekend type of event during my most recent visit. I cannot determine if they are die-hard fans, but they seem knowledgeable about their team's players. When Reds top prospect Billy Hamilton got on first, they were anticipating the theft of at least a couple of bases-in which he complied with lightning quick fashion.
Whether you are crossing into Kentucky over the Ohio River from Indiana on either I-64 or I-65, Louisville Slugger Field is almost visible from the interstate. A quick distance from Exit 136C and you can find either parking on the streets (meters expire at 6 PM) or in lots across the street of the stadium for $6. The choice is yours, but I have been lucky enough to find free parking at the meters for evening games a few blocks away from the stadium. It is well worth saving some money for a short walk.
Ticket prices range from $7-$11, a real bargain for this level of baseball. Where most clubs in the league are asking $10 for lawn seats, you get a prime seat behind home plate for around the same price. When you add that to the atmosphere inside, special promotional nights and Happy Hour Thursdays (live band and drink specials from 5-7 PM), and you have one of the better price points in AAA baseball. There are also discounted tickets on certain dates to honor specific groups. If you check out the team's website, you may fit into one of these categories and plan your visit accordingly.
Louisville really appreciates their baseball heritage and has displayed numerous banners and pictures throughout the stadium. There is nothing quite like visiting a ballpark and getting a little history lesson at the same time.
I love the display of past team pennants outside the west and east gates of the ballpark, along with an array of photographs, uniforms and lifelike pictures of former stars of Louisville. If you are unaware of the city's legacy to baseball, let this be a quick history lesson.
Louisville Slugger Field might be one of the better spots in the country to take in a AAA game with the affordability of tickets, selection of food and different promotions. The views of downtown are spectacular and there is definitely a minor league field in a rather intimate little ballpark. A trip to see a game in Louisville should be included on anyone's ballpark tour schedule.
Member Review by batsblogger
Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Louisville Bats, is a great baseball stadium located in downtown Louisville along the banks of the Ohio River. There's plenty to do before the game, there's plenty to do during the game, and there's plenty to do after the game, all at a fair price.
Member Review by Michael David on Nov 08, 2012
This is a great ballpark. Just the facade alone while you're entering the park shows your entering someplace special.
Member Review by Coachrob16 on Sep 16, 2014
We visited this stadium in the summer and had a great time. We sat in the first row of the left field bleachers. Had fun. The food was good and had many options. Really wasn't a bad seat at all.
235 W Market St
Louisville, KY 40202
1576 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, KY 40205
800 W Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
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Louisville, KY 40202
727 W Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
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